Medical marijuana and the new herbalism, part 3: Cannabis does not cure breast cancer

It's been a while since I discussed medical marijuana, even though it's a topic I've been meaning to come back to since I first dubbed medical marijuana to be the equivalent of herbalism and discussed how the potential of cannabinoids to treat cancer has been, thus far, unimpressive, with relatively modest antitumor effects. The reason I refer to medical marijuana as the "new herbalism" is because the arguments made in favor of medical marijuana are very much like arguments for herbalism, including arguments that using the natural plant is superior to using specific purified cannabinoids, appeals to how "natural" marijuana is, and claims of incredible effectiveness against all manner of diseases, including deadly diseases like cancer, based on anecdotes and testimonials. Now, as I pointed out before, not only am I not opposed to the legalization and regulation of marijuana for recreational use, even though I've never tried it myself, but I support it. What I do not support are claims for medical effects that are not backed up with good scientific evidence, and for medical marijuana most claims fall into that category. That's why I tend to view medical marijuana as a backdoor way to get marijuana legalized. Personally I'd rather advocates of marijuana legalization drop the charade, argue for legalization, and stop with the medical nonsense.

The last time around, I discussed the evidence supporting claims that "cannabis cures cancer" and found them to be wanting based on science. I didn't however, discuss the "cannabis cures cancer" testimonial machine that drives the claim that marijuana is useful for treating cancer; at least, I only touched on it by discussing briefly Rick Simpson, who claims that his hash oil cures approximately 70% of patients with terminal cancer and a published anecdote in which it was claimed that hemp oil was effective in treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia. (It wasn't. At least, the evidence presented was not convincing.) Since then, I've wanted to revisit the topic of "cannabis cures cancer" testimonials, and, for whatever reason, now seems like a good time to do it, not the least of which because there was recently a BBC news report by Alastair Leithead that presented a desperate patient with stage IV presenting cannabis as her last hope for survival. It also featured a cancer patient by the name of Stefanie LaRue who claimed that cannabis had been highly effective against her stage IV breast cancer, even going so far as to add an additional claim, namely that she used only cannabis, no chemotherapy. In this, the news story was horrible and highly misleading, because LaRue's story, as you will see, is far more complex than what is presented, and while it's true that LaRue hasn't had any chemotherapy in the relevant timeframe, that does not mean she did not receive conventional treatment, as you will see.

Stefanie LaRue

AFter seeing Leithead's story, I decided to look into the "cannabis cures cancer" testimonial of Stefanie LaRue. Hers is a sad story in that she was diagnosed at a young age (30 years old) after her boyfriend found a lump in her breast and misdiagnoses by three different doctors. In many ways, her story is an inspiring one based on her will to fight and her activism, which have led her to have served on the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Southern California’s Breast Cancer Network of Strength, and the USC Norris Cancer Center’s Cancer Survivorship Advisory Council. Near and dear to my heart, she also is very much into rescuing and fostering many wounded, mistreated and special needs dogs. Indeed, I approach this particular testimonial with more than a little trepidation because there's an incredible amount to admire about LaRue and, more importantly, her involvement with Komen and other breast cancer charities means that people I respect and admire (who might read this) very well might know her—or even be friends with her. Still, given the direction her story has taken, I feel obligated to discuss it.

Here's a video of her from 2007 when she was still undergoing chemotherapy:

Notice the themes we see so often in cancer patients, particularly young cancer patients: Why me? There must be a reason. It can't have "just happened". Breast cancer is a disease of older women. (Indeed, the mean age at diagnosis is around 61.) There must have been something in the environment. Possibly. As has been discussed before, for breast cancer, environment- and lifestyle-attributable causes account for a much smaller fraction of cancer diagnoses than most people believe, and 1.8% of cases of breast cancer occur in women 34 and under. Given that there are approximately 233,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed every year in the U.S., that means that close to 4,200 women under 34 are diagnosed each year with breast cancer. Still, being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30 is unusual; so it's understandable that LaRue would wonder why it happened to her.

Worse, LaRue was diagnosed with Stage IV disease, as described in an article by Sonja Renea published on the Medical Jane website entitled "Meet Stefanie LaRue: Cancer Survivor and Medical Marijuana Advocate":

Stefanie was sent home several times with several rounds of antibiotics, which is quite telling of younger folks being misdiagnosed. By the time she could be tested thoroughly, the cancer had spread to her bones. Doctors diagnosed her with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer, which is cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body. The prognosis was grim: she was given a year to live, at most.

Three weeks later, Stefanie began her first round of chemotherapy. To make matters worse, she had to to [sic] cope with her employer, who showed little sympathy for her situation. Despite her job in commercial real estate being very stressful, she was expected to work through her cancer treatment.

This is a big problem with health care in the U.S. besides the difficulty many people have affording health insurance, a problem only partially alleviated by the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), which didn't exist in 2005. You can be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and still be screwed as far as work goes. It happens far too often in this country.

So LaRue ended up quitting her job and filing for disability. She underwent six rounds of chemotherapy and then a mastectomy. At this point reading her story I had a question. If LaRue had bone metastases, it's not clear to me why her surgeon and oncologist would recommend that she undergo a mastectomy. Three possible reasons suggest themselves to me as a breast surgeon. One is that it was done to prevent the primary tumor from growing through the skin and turning into en cuirasse disease, although usually such surgery is not done right after chemotherapy but when the tumor has started to grow again. Another is that she had a complete radiologic response to the chemotherapy, meaning that all her breast and bone disease disappeared. When that happens and the patient has been rendered "no evaluable disease" (NED), we will often treat her as though she were not stage IV and undertake surgery with curative intent. The final possibility is that surgery was done with the intent of prolonging survival even though metastases were still present. It's been an ongoing controversy in breast cancer over whether removing the primary tumor prolongs survival in stage IV disease or whether the apparent improvement in survival due to surgery is due to selection bias; that is, bias towards healthier patients with less aggressive disease who are chosen to undergo surgery preferentially. More recent evidence suggests that removing the primary probably doesn't improve survival, but that was not at all clear back in 2005. (To be honest, it still isn't quite clear.)

On her website, LaRue reports that her tumor was 8 cm in diameter (which is big). Apparently her tumor didn't shrink enough to be removed in a lumpectomy; so she needed a mastectomy:

After chemo she had surgery to remove the cancer. But her margins were not clear, so another surgery followed. She was left with only skin and a nipple on the right side of her chest. Her breast surgeon had scraped all the way down to the chest wall removing all the breast tissue possible but sparing the skin. Despite the advanced stage of her cancer, she got to keep the outside of her breast because she had a skin-sparing mastectomy. A plastic surgeon was later able to reconstruct her breast, restoring her shape, her femininity and her sexuality.

At this point in my reading, I was unclear as to why a surgeon would do a skin-sparing mastectomy in a patient with stage IV disease. Most plastic surgeons are reluctant to do reconstruction in such a patient because reconstruction can be a big operation, and if the patient isn't expected to live more than a year it just doesn't make a lot of sense to have the patient spend a significant chunk of her remaining time recovering from surgery, having additional surgeries to "touch up" the reconstruction. The willingness of her surgeon and plastic surgeon to undertake a skin sparing mastectomy and reconstruction suggests to me that she had a very good response to the chemotherapy and/or that her prognosis as a stage IV patient was viewed as being considerably more favorable than usual.

Whatever the case, during the chemotherapy that she underwent before her surgery, LaRue looked to alternative medicine to ease her symptoms:

She found help with an integrative oncologist at UCLA, where she learned how to make changes to her diet, use natural supplements, get acupuncture, and work on personal fitness; all of which are integrative, complementary, and alternative treatments to go along with chemotherapy.

Now here's the thing. As a patient with stage IV disease, LaRue did really well for eight years. It's hard to find a good detailed description of what happened between November 2005 (when she was diagnosed with breast cancer) and 2013, but she didn't start using cannabis oil until 2013, which means that conventional oncology is what got her through nearly eight out of the nine and a half years she's survived with her stage IV cancer. It's important to remember that when looking at a lot of the articles about LaRue, because before 2013, although she had gone all in for "integrative oncology," she hadn't yet discovered cannabis and was still being treated with mostly conventional medicine. So, between 2006, when she finished her initial treatment, and at least September 2013, when she posted a series of images to Instagram of her hospitalization for thoracoscopic surgery, conventional medicine is what kept LaRue alive. So when Sonja Renea of the Medical Jane website writes that "Stefanie LaRue was 30 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer and given the dismal prognosis of less than a year to live" and follows it up with, "That was nine years ago," she is being deceptive.

This is how it's described in the Medical Jane:

In 2013 Stefanie had a Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) and the results were not good. This was now her third reoccurrence of cancer. The chemo sensitivity testing concluded there were five lines of chemo treatments that would work on the tumors.

Stefanie declined the treatment. “I did my homework. I researched as much as I could. I watched. I listened. I read. I contacted. I prayed. Most of all, I believed. I weighed my options, which were essentially chemotherapy or cannabis oil, and I decided to take the natural route this time…” she says.

Stefanie followed the Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) protocol until she was cancer-free. “Cannabis oil killed all of the tumors in my body. My monthly lab and quarterly scan results are proof that the cannabis oil treatment worked,” she says. Her doctor, who had previously been skeptical, now credits these “alternative” treatments as the reason for her speedy recovery.

On Instagram, LaRue described it thusly in a posting dated October 2, 2013:

Dear cancer, as we both know, yesterday was a big day of news. And sadly for you, you lost. You lost your "upper hand" you tried to claim in that you were potentially showing up again (unwelcomed in my body) not as a metastatic reoccurrence, but as a possible new primary cancer. Which would have been a much more challenging ass kickin match between you and I. None the less, I would have enjoyed. But since you are now known as the same initial metastatic breast cancer reoccurring, I hope you are preparing for what is coming to you. Because now I have the upper hand. When the chemo sensitivity tests are complete on my biopsy tissue at Caris Labs we will know exactly what to come after you and all your little friends with! Poor you. I know your still cowardly hiding in my body but you have pissed off some pretty important people that care a lot about me and guess what... Now they too are coming in to whip your ass!!!

We've encountered Caris Labs before in the context of discussing Stanislaw Burzynski's incompetent "personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy." Basically, Caris is a company that will do various genomic tests and immunohistochemistry on a tumor sample to try to identify which targeted agents it might be sensitive to. I've basically discussed how the routine use of such a test is premature, given that there isn't any good evidence that using a test like the one from Caris or other competing tests results in better response rates or prolonged survival, but such tests have still proliferated and their use is not uncommon, even in academic medical centers.

In any case, at this point in the fall of 2013, LaRue was facing her third recurrence of cancer. Unfortunately, this is a story very much like the many alternative cancer cure testimonials I've deconstructed over the years in that we lack a lot of key information, which means that I can only speculate. First, we don't know how extensive a cancer recurrence LaRue had. Given that she underwent thoracoscopic lung surgery (a thoracoscope is like a laparoscope, except that instead of letting a surgeon operate in the abdomen it allows the thoracic surgeon to operate in the chest with minimal incisions), presumably she had a lung nodule. In a patient with stage IV disease, most such lesions would be biopsied using a core needle under CT scan guidance, rather than excised surgically through a laparoscope. Why did the surgeon choose this course?

A couple of possible reasons suggest themselves from the story. First, perhaps she did undergo a CT-guided core needle biopsy and the diagnosis was uncertain. Certainly LaRue's Instagram posting, in which she gloats over her tumor for not being a new primary tumor but just the same as the other recurrences of her original tumor, suggests that this could be the case. After all, a new suspicious lung nodule in a breast cancer patient is usually considered a new metastasis until proven otherwise. In any case, in patients with metastatic disease, a tissue diagnosis is always imperative before beginning treatment if at all feasible. Another possibility is that this tumor, whatever doctors thought it was before surgery, was the only site of disease detectable. In such a case, particularly in a young patient who had been doing well for nearly eight years even if she did have stage IV disease, strong consideration would be given for excising the cancer and eliminating the only known site of disease even though the evidence that metastasectomy (removing the metastasis) will prolong survival in breast cancer is mostly without controls and thus prone to selection bias. (Metastasectomy of liver and lung metastases can definitely prolong survival in colorectal cancer.) Still, there is evidence that in select patients removing pulmonary metastases can result in significant survival benefit. Whether LaRue is one of those select patients is unclear.

So here's what I think probably happened. After surgery LaRue (understandably) did not want to undergo further chemotherapy. For whatever reason, she latched on to Rick Simpson's hemp oil as the treatment that would control her cancer. How she found out about it and why she became convinced it would cure her, it's hard to say from publicly available information. In the Medical Jane story, LaRue proclaims that "cannabis oil killed all the tumors in my body" and that her "monthly lab and quarterly scan results are proof that the cannabis oil treatment worked." It is, of course, impossible to confirm or dispute this assessment without knowing what all her scans showed.

There is, however, a photo on Instagram of LaRue receiving a shot, which she identifies as Xgeva, which LaRue described as "bone mets maintenance." And so it is. It's a monoclonal antibody against the RANK ligand, a protein that acts as the primary signal for bone removal, and it prevents fractures in patients with bone metastases. So this implies that LaRue still has bone metastases. It also makes one wonder what other non-chemotherapy conventional therapy she might be taking. There's also a post by her on Twitter asking about Afinitor (everolimus):

Afinitor is a drug that inhibits an enzyme called mTOR and is used in cancer that is positive for the estrogen receptor after it develops resistance to anti-estrogen therapy. Apparently she did not take Afinitor, because on March 14, 2014 LaRue posted a photo on Twitter:

In the photo, LaRue is receiving an injection of Zoladex (goserelin), a drug used to suppress production of sex hormones. In other words, six months after her thoracoscopy, LaRue was receiving conventional medical therapy, specifically a treatment to shut down her ovaries' production of estrogen. Thus, LaRue appears to be the case of a cancer patient who chose unproven alternative medicine but at the same time continued to receive conventional medical therapy for her cancer and did very well. As is the case with most such patients, she attributes her excellent outcome, at least after her most recent relapse, far more to the alternative treatments (in this case, Rick Simpson's hemp oil) than she does to the conventional therapy she is also taking, even after her discovery of hemp oil. I also can't help but point out that the very fact that LaRue survived nearly eight years with stage IV cancer before discovering hemp oil is a pretty strong argument that from a biological standpoint her tumor is pretty indolent, as some tumors positive for the estrogen receptor are; so it's not surprising that she would still be alive a year and a half after her thoracoscopy on Zoladex and Xgeva alone (plus whatever other conventional medical therapy she is receiving). Only LaRue and her oncologist know for sure, though, and her oncologist can't tell anyone without her permission.

Finally, there's the claim that LaRue is now cancer-free, without having undergone chemotherapy this time around, a claim repeated in Leithead's credulous interview. There's even a brief scene showning a radiology report, which, if you freeze frame, indicates that there are still lesions in her spine that could be consistent with healing metastases, but there are no new ones. What does this mean? Who knows? Without her full clinical history and full knowledge of what she is taking in addition to the cannabis, it's impossible to tell.

Cannabis versus breast cancer

As much as I admire the grace and determination with which Stefanie LaRue has endured over 9 years after her cancer diagnosis, as a cancer doctor it bothers me profoundly that she has allowed herself to fall under the spell of the "cannabis cures cancer" alternative medicine crowd, in particular Rick Simpson. I discussed Simpson the last time I wrote about cannabis and cancer. As I said at the time, Rick Simpson is just like cancer quacks the world over, who have no firm evidence to back up their miraculous-sounding cure rates and excuse their failures by blaming the treatment patients had before they started the quackery. Quacks like Rick Simpson do those who think that cannabinoids have promise in treating cancer no favors.

I also discussed how the vast majority of studies touted by the "cannabis cures cancer" advocates tend to be preclinical studies in cell culture or animal models that show relatively modest antitumor effects due to various cannabinoids. Indeed, this article on Medical Jane, "Studies Show Cannabinoids May Help Fight Triple-Negative Breast Cancer", fails to provide particularly convincing evidence that they do. Before I look at the studies, I can't help but note that triple negative breast cancer is breast cancer that makes neither the estrogen receptor (ER), the progesterone receptor (PR), nor overexpressed HER2. Yet the article invokes Stefanie LaRue, who clearly has ER(+) breast cancer.

Another thing that needs to be pointed out. Every single one of the studies invoked by Medical Jane has nothing to do with hemp oil, be it Rick Simpson's hemp oil or some other type. Each of the studies examines either purified cannabinoids or, in the case of this study, a chemically modified cannabinoid. This study cited in Molecular Cancer, for instance, looks Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the most abundant and potent cannabinoid in marijuana, and JWH-133, a non-psychotropic CB2 receptor-selective agonist. Both inhibit the growth of HER2(+) breast cancer cells in cell culture and in mice, but the concentrations needed are pretty high, with an IC50 (concentration that is 50% of maximum inhibition) in the range of 5 to 10 μM, concentrations achievable with injection of purified compound but certainly not by smoking pot

You are also unlikely to achieve these levels by drinking hemp oil, which, by the way, usually contains so little THC that it is below the limit of detection for common assays and manufacturers brag that it's impossible to fail a drug test if you're consuming hemp seed oil because "THC levels in our products are barely measurable." Of course, I do realize that Rick Simpson calls his oil hemp oil even though it's really cannabis oil derived from the buds rather than the seeds, but even he brags that "following the dosage previously described, many people can take the full treatment and never get high," which implies that his oil achieves nowhere near the concentration of THC in the blood necessary to be active against cancer. Moreover, oral bioavailability of THC from such oils is notoriously low, between 4-20%, making it unlikely that concentrations well above the 10 μM necessary to inhibit or kill more than 50% of the cancer cells are achievable with oral dosing.

Thus, the various studies cited, such as this one, which shows inhibition of the epidermal growth factor pathway by purified cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotropic cannabinoid; this one, the aforementioned study that examines purified Δ9-THC and JWH-133 against HER2(+) breast cancer; and this one, which also examines CBD in breast cancer, are interesting and very preliminary. Moreover, they all examine cannabinoids purified from cannabis, and one even examines a chemically modified cannabinoid. In other words, even if cannabinoids make the jump from preclinical models to humans, these studies do not support the use of medical marijuana, either smoked as the plant or ingested as an oil, to treat breast cancer. They also do not suggest sufficient activity to produce miracle cures of stage IV cancer as described by Rick Simpson. Indeed, a recent review concludes that "current preclinical data does not yet provide robust evidence that systemically administered Δ9-THC will be useful for the curative treatment of cancer," although CBD might have a role based on preclinical data.

Neither cannabinoid, however, is likely to be curative for advanced cancer. It's possible that specific cannabinoids might have a role to play in the multimodality treatment of cancer, but, given what we know about them from preclinical studies, it's highly unlikely that cannabinoids, medical marijuana, or Rick Simpson's hemp oil can cure stage IV cancer of any kind.

Hope versus hype

I have no doubt that Stefanie LaRue honestly believes that Rick Simpson's hemp oil is the reason why she's still alive today and doing so well. I can't help but point out that Stanislaw Burzynski's patients, for example, also honestly believe that his antineoplastons are what saved their lives, even though even Burzynski can't produce good evidence that they have antitumor activity. Depressingly, it just goes to show how even such an accomplished woman can fall prey to the same human cognitive shortcomings that we all share and confuse correlation with causation. If it were just her, I wouldn't have felt obligated to write this post, but LaRue makes it very clear that not only does she believe that Rick Simpson's hemp oil allowed her to heal herself of her longstanding metastatic cancer:

But she plans on becoming an evangelist for Rick Simpson's hemp oil and medical marijuana:

In this video she notes that she's had multiple recurrences and they're all gone, after which she challenges the viewer to "explain that." Believe it or not, personally, I'd be overjoyed if something as simple as hemp oil could treat stage IV cancer so effectively. I really would, as it would mean that I'd rarely have to see a breast cancer patient die. However, although I can't be sure without a lot more information (which is highly unlikely to be forthcoming) and I do have to concede the possibility, albeit remote, that Rick Simpson's hemp oil is the reason why LaRue has survived a year and a half since her last new metastasis, I nonetheless suspect that it is far more likely than not that it is the Zoladex and the Xgeva (not to mention whatever other conventional treatments that LaRue may be taking that she hasn't mentioned on social media) that are keeping her going now, combined with her disease's already-demonstrated indolent biology.

And long may they continue to do so!

For nearly eight years, Stefanie LaRue fought a battle with courage, inspiring intelligence, and grace. Her story was (and still is) a story of hope for women with stage IV cancer that they can live a long time with the disease with good quality of life. Unfortunately, a year and a half ago her story took a turn into pseudoscience, becoming a cautionary tale of how even the most intelligent, ambitious, and determined person can be subject to magical thinking. This would not be an issue with me were it not that, inadvertently, and with the best of intentions, LaRue has declared her determination to promote Rick Simpson's hemp oil as a cancer cure, using her own story as an example of what it can do. Given her proven history of advocacy and her numerous accomplishments with organizations like the Komen Los Angeles County Affiliate from 2008 to 2010 (before she discovered hemp oil), I can't help but be worried that she will in her quest to save women from stage IV breast cancer end up doing exactly the opposite for some women.

I still hold out hope that, given her history, LaRue will eventually realize that her true story is far more a cause for hope for women with stage IV disease than her current belief that cannabis is what has kept her alive.. Thanks to advances in breast cancer care, more and more women with stage IV disease are living a lot longer than expected, even ten years, all with no need to resort to unproven treatments promoted with testimonials, like Rick Simpson's hemp oil.

That's the real reason for hope.

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Thank you for such a thorough, rational, and compassionate piece.

"Cannabis healed me". I'd like to just chalk it up to having been pummeled silly by all the years of conventional therapies. I can only hope that she'll eventually give appropriate credit to the doctors and the drugs and the sharp, shiny instruments that brought her to this place

And I will note, I agree with Orac's sentiment that doctors, especially Oncologists, that have to deal patients through the worst experiences of their lives & see many of these patients die, even with the best standards of care available, would give their right arm for a "miracle cure."

...where she learned how to make changes to her diet, use natural supplements, get acupuncture, and work on personal fitness; all of which are integrative, complementary, and alternative treatments to go along with chemotherapy.

Did I miss the memo? When did nutrition and exercise become complementary or alternative medicine, rather than standard-of-care science based medicine?

I assumed Bob Marley's case would have been the "ne plus ultra" regarding the efficacy of cannabis Tx for cancer.

By John Danley (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

As a former breast cancer patient who was familiar with Stephanie LaRue's story, I read this piece with particular interest. Definitely, a remarkable young woman facing her disease with grace and courage.

But I was dismayed (although not surprised) that she has become an advocate for Rick Simpson Oil. After all, the stress of living with Stage IV cancer - however well you are doing - has to be incredibly stressful and multiple recurrences would certainly highlight your vulnerability to
"miracle cures".

Although I am going into my fourth year NED, I still belong to an on-line community for breast cancer patients and one of the major discussions on the alternative therapy treatment boards is about Rick Simpson Oil and how it can "cure" cancer. How, after taking the oil for a number of weeks, you feel so wonderful, that you KNOW it just has to be working, destroying the tumor inside of you. It amazes me that few on the thread suspect that that "wonderful" feeling has nothing to do with your tumor being cured and everything to do with the fact that you're probably high.

By Selena Wolf (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

Sorry, but it is mean and bullying to take issue with a nice-looking young woman who is recommending woo for cancer.

Didn't we learn anything from the Ainscough debacle?

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

@ #6 DB: Yes... Why are these celebrated altie testimonials always by a gorgeous babe?! And the tear jerking "vaccine injury" & death cases are invariably described as a precious, joyful, loving, beautiful, intelligent & talented child too! Never an HPV "injury" story about a drug addled teen runaway street prostitute that was sexually abused by their stepfather!

Dangerous Bacon, Jess Ainscough's case is quite different from Stefanie LaRue's case. LaRue has been deeply involved in breast cancer advocacy and raising funds for breast cancer research. IMO, LaRue likely has a good knowledge base about sham "miracle cures", yet she's done a U-turn and is now advocating for the all purpose medical marijuana cure (for "sugar diabetes" and a variety of cancers).

I'm relying on Orac to fill in the multiple omitted pieces about Stefanie LaRue's breast cancer staging and disease progression, which somehow are missing.

Really really sad that she fell for that deluding freak! Hope that she will realize the truth.

I was in a double blind study-I was shocked when I learned I had a placebo effect. Really a skeptic now!
Patients should be educated about placebo effects.

@#6 Give me a break with this. It may be mean and bullying to call out a person publicly for the choices they've made in their personal lives, but when that person starts publicly advocating that other people make the same choice it becomes 100% appropriate to call them out on it.

By Wolfbeckett (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

Dangerous Bacon, Jess Ainscough’s case is quite different from Stefanie LaRue’s case. LaRue has been deeply involved in breast cancer advocacy and raising funds for breast cancer research

Unfortunately, she still is, although she hasn't been on the board of Komen LA County for several years. Her Instagram and Twitter accounts not infrequently show her giving talks using Komen slide sets. That's part of what bothers me. After eight years of being a fantastic role model for enduring stage IV breast cancer with grace, knowledge, and hope, she's become a spokesperson for Rick Simpson's hemp oil quackery while still engaging in her previous breast cancer advocacy activities, although it's not clear if she is more or less active than she was before on that front. I rather suspect it's less, with the rest of her advocacy energy being taken up promoting Rick Simpson's hemp oil nonsense. It's the kind of "integration" that could do great harm, particularly if she convinces women with earlier stage, potentially curable breast cancer to choose Simpson's hemp oil instead of standard of care treatment. It's the kind of activism that will lead to preventable death.

Basically, she's got such a large store of good will built up from her previous activities and her longstanding bravery in the face of stage IV cancer that her word carries a lot of weight among women with breast cancer.

It’s the kind of “integration” that could do great harm, particularly if she convinces women with earlier stage, potentially curable breast cancer to choose Simpson’s hemp oil instead of standard of care treatment. It’s the kind of activism that will lead to preventable death.

Yeah, it both bums me out and raises my hackles, as a friend of a close friend basically went that route - cannabis oil instead of real medical treatment for what would have been curable breast cancer - and died from it not long ago.

Although the cases are *very* different, I think the fact that these women are conventionally attractive is important. Their appearance is a huge factor in the marketability of their advice.

These three faces lend themselves very well to peddling all things natural-whole-pure-clean-nontoxic-ancient-balanced-intuitive-cleansing-nutritious-organically-grown-detoxifying.

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g195/webbsite/cancergals_zps77uxz4b4…

I know someone who is privately smoking marijuana to "cure" her recently diagnosed early stage breast cancer. I think it might be DISC (is that right for ductal in situ carcinoma?). She has said nothing about whether she will pursue conventional treatment, so I suspect she may have decided this is a superior substitute from having been a champion of hemp products for a while.

This is not looking good, and so far I can't figure out how to challenge her without alienating her. She seems blissfully convinced that she has found a secret cure. I am feeling very, very not-good about this situation.

@ John Danley:

Whilst I know that you're joking...
unfortunately, Mr Marley wound up taking woo for his cancer at the infamous Josef Issels clinic in Germany: there's even a documentary of his last days. It was truly heart-rending to watch how he shivered in the frozen landscape when he could have been at home amongst friends, family and... er..
lush tropical greenery.

AFAIK he never advocated for c@nnabis for cancer.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

@Sara

If I recall correctly, and Orac can correct me if I'm wrong, people diagnosed with DCIS have a reasonable chance that they will never develop invasive cancer. It's possible that the person you know won't ever progress. And, because she's choosing marijuana, may convince herself that her chosen treatment is what kept her healthy, rather than the nature of DCIS itself.

Search this blog for DCIS to get some more info that might help you out.

"Personally I’d rather advocates of marijuana legalization drop the charade, argue for legalization, and stop with the medical nonsense."

Exactly this. Counterproductive laws should be changed, rather than BS 'science' used to sneak drugs in the back door. Marijuana is a generally pleasing recreational drug, not a fecking panacea, and it's frustrating to advocate for legalization and find oneself surrounded by the crunchy alt med types (like I'm not surrounded by them enough already).

By Roadstergal (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

I attended two Komen luncheons in Los Angeles for Metastatic patients where this young woman was a moderator/speaker/prancer. Oh, the prancer part. Silk cami short shorts, stiletto heels. She is so full of herself she does not inspire, she turned me off so much I will NEVER go to another Komen event. Not that i wanted to but it should not be because the other participants are offensive.

By Norma Desmond (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

Stefanie LaRue is confusing/conflating the tranquilizing effects of her daily CBD tincture doses and her rescue inhaler (CBD vape pen) with her recent clean bone scan. Could we state that correlation does not imply cure?

#6 - I, at least, read this as sarcasm. Such poopyheads we all are, amirite?

By Emma Crew (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

Emma Crew
yes, I was waiting for the call to recalibrate sarcasm meters.

By Peter Dugdale (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

@#20 and#21 I think it just goes to show how lame people that sincerely post that kind of thing really are that some of us (who shall go unnamed *cough cough*) can't tell sarcasm from sincerity in a post like that.

By Wolfbeckett (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

Nothing useful to add, so let me wish Ms LaRue many more years.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

Not that I don't disagree with a majority of the way this topic presents, pot as being promoted as a "cure," but I tend to disagree with the summation in one paragraph.

Orac: "What I do not support are claims for medical effects that are not backed up with good scientific evidence, and for medical marijuana most claims fall into that category. That’s why I tend to view medical marijuana as a backdoor way to get marijuana legalized. Personally I’d rather advocates of marijuana legalization drop the charade, argue for legalization, and stop with the medical nonsense."

From my home state (CO), we weighed this from some big picture items. Pot was mainly seen as a palliative, still is, but not really a curative against cancer.

Also, kids/young adults were also showing up at the ER under the influence of Spice (-- why not just use the real stuff without risking your life on that crap?). Terrible stuff.

We didn't see medical m. as a replacement for evidence-based medicine, but more as an effective palliative for cancer, burn, chronic pain patients without nearly the deleterious effects of other drugs like opioids. So, the activists & voters (and some in the medical community as well, and not a small number of medical professionals, either) pressed for a change in policy to gamble on a medical designation.

There are problems in that it's not pharmacy regulated. But, what can we do without a better research classification. Doing the holistic route for distribution was a bad idea, yes lucrative for some, but we have a drug being distributed by individuals with no professional oversight. Pros & cons on that, for sure; it's not perfect.

Another point, there are clinical trials underway for evidence-based uses in cases of Dravet's in pediatrics. Granted, for a refined product. The big problem in research and finding evidence-based uses has been with a misapplied control substance rating that has been more political than medical. Now, we have it as a class II for research.

Going a step further into recreational use -- once a cartel from Mexico gunned down someone enjoying a jet ski on a lake, the voters pretty much decided to immediately marginalize the cartel economic base, and at least try to put the market in the hands of a state taxing authority. Obviously, we'd much rather have non-violent manufacturers willing to work with a taxing & enforcement authority. At least at the local/state level.

Going back to what evidence-based means. Not entirely a charade when it comes to research. More trial work needs to be performed, it's not backed up because of the overly restrictive class policy. Maybe we will see a change in favor of more medical uses in neural pathology. But certainly yes, there is no basis to say that this drug is curative against any cancer pathways, only palliative.

We don't have a really good handle on what percentage of pre-invasive breast cancer (ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS) will progress to invasive tumor.

"The percentage of DCIS that is ‘nonprogressing,’ that is, would not develop into invasive disease even if untreated, is unknown. A recently published Markov model that incorporates data from multiple mammography screening trials estimates the incidence of DCIS that will progress into invasive breast cancer if untreated at 100–270 per 100,000. The model estimates that women can survive with nonprogressing DCIS for over 30 years while the average time prior to progressing from DCIS to invasive cancer is 3 months. The model further assumes that these invasive breast cancers will remain in a preclinical state, on average, for 2½ years. Thus, women with progressing DCIS have slightly less than 3 years between DCIS incidence and clinically detected invasive breast cancer."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK32580/

One problem with assuming that DCIS will remain in situ and treating it with cannabis, mushrooms or whatever, is that DCIS can co-exist with invasive carcinoma, and the biopsy may only sample the in situ part. This argues strongly for evidence-based therapy and followup.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

“Personally I’d rather advocates of marijuana legalization drop the charade, argue for legalization, and stop with the medical nonsense.”

Exactly this. Counterproductive laws should be changed, rather than BS ‘science’ used to sneak drugs in the back door.

Unfortunately, the tactic seems to have been the only effective approach to date.

@Dangerous Bacon #26

I think that quoted statement is kind of vague. To me that implies that ~200 women out of every 100,000 in the general population will develop a case of DCIS that will end up progressing. It says nothing about what percentage of biopsy-diagnosed DCIS will progress without treatment.

A quick Google search turned up a small 2005 study that found progression to invasive cancer in 13 of 28 women with low grade DCIS who did not have their DCIS excised or otherwise treated. These women, based on their low grade DCIS, probably fit into the lowest risk cohort for progression.

Based on the Early Breast Cancer Trialists Collaborative Group metaanalysis, after excision of DCIS, about 30% of women will have a recurrence of disease after surgery alone; around half of these recurrences will be DCIS and the other half will be true invasive cancer. Radiotherapy can reduce this risk by about half (about 15% recurrences within 10 years, again with half of recurrences as DCIS and half as invasive cancer).

Based on this, I suspect that, among all women with DCIS, at least half, probably more, could expect progression to true cancer without treatment. Even among the very lowest risk, untreated DCIS would have a very high risk of progressing to cancer.

Unfortunately, the tactic seems to have been the only effective approach to date.

I don't believe either Washington or Washington, DC went through the legal "medical" marijuana stage. There's a proposed constitutional amendment in Ohio that would also bypass that argument and go straight to recreation (much like the Ohio casinos bypassed the larval riverboat stage).

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

Washington (state) had medical marijuana starting in 1998, actually.

And DC had it starting in 2010.

the Ohio casinos bypassed the larval riverboat stage

Now I am trying to imagine what a larval riverboat would look like.
In the ideal world, H.R. Giger would have illustrated Martin's "Fevre Dream".

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

MOB@28: Washington state had/has a real half-baked (if you'll forgive the pun) approach to 'medical' MJ, in that it wasn't illegal, but it wasn't exactly legal either. And when recreational pot was legalized the state didn't do anything to address the disparities in the law between recreational and medical pot. So it's been a real mess.

On a more useful front there has been work in WA to get formal permission from the Feds to study pot. Basically the state research institutions (the big universities) want to be 100% sure that they won't lose federal funding if they study pot. Fear of losing funding has been a big issue for getting good scientific data on pot.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

There’s a proposed constitutional amendment in Ohio that would also bypass that argument

The remaining one (the other failed to get 1000 valid signatures) is competing with HB 33.

D.C. had medical marijuana with Initiative 71. Washington state allowed medical marijuana in 1998.

Washington state had/has a real half-baked (if you’ll forgive the pun) approach to ‘medical’ MJ, in that it wasn’t illegal, but it wasn’t exactly legal either.

It was a pretty standard situation, actually, in that it was still illegal on the Federal level (of course) but legal for medical use only within the state. It was never decriminalized during the "medical only" period, if that's what you mean. I do recall the state police making a statement at some point, I think when I was in college, that they basically weren't really going to bother with enforcement anymore.

The point that I should have made more clearly in the first place – individual jurisdictions aside – was that medicalizing the issue actually succeeded as the thin edge of the wedge. The overt-legalization dominoes maybe could start toppling or something once some concrete, positive fiscal results show up from states that have gone whole-hog, but it just wasn't going anywhere on its own.

I can't remember whether I've mentioned this, but maybe over a space of six to seven years ago, I shared a back porch with neighbors who – after being really secretive for a long time after they moved in – turned out to be stoners of the first water, seemingly as a primitive way of, ah, managing marital stresses, and engaging company when taken individually.

One fine afternoon, I was chatting with the wife on the porch, and she expressed a desire to move to California so that she would have easy access to "medical" marijuana. I mentioned that this wasn't exactly the idea and (naively) that flagrant abuse – given her list of "indications" – of the law could, you know, undermine access to people who could at least make a plausible case.

The husband eventually came from whatever chores or Burning Man esoteric duties he had been attending to, and even he concurred. The only obstacle they seemed to have was the mercurial nature of home-delivery services.

^ Grumble.

"The husband eventually came from whatever chores or Burning Man esoteric duties he had been attending to, and even he concurred. The only obstacle they seemed to have was the mercurial nature of home-delivery services."

Seriously, he went through a very late night phase of bow-drilling that lasted for weeks. I'd love to catch up with him, but I never heard back after returning a phone call he left about a year ago.

I have a very good friend back in Washington - he's about 80 years old now - who got a medical card quite some time ago, I think for arthritis, but I'm not sure. He used to bus up to Tacoma to pick up some "boo" every so often. (I think this was all through the VA, oddly enough. He served in the period between Korea and Vietnam and has some very interesting and entertaining stories to tell about the experience.)

Speaking of noisy neighbors late at night, I lived on a sailboat for a time in college - money issues, basically I knew a lady who didn't feel like paying moorage so I paid it, like a hundred bucks a month, and lived on the boat.) There was a Vietnam vet who lived in the boat next to me - it turned out, oddly enough, that he knew a woman who'd taught in my high school and died quite suddenly of a brain aneurysm - and he was a banjo enthusiast, but pretty much strictly between the hours of 2 and 4 in the morning.

Speaking of noisy neighbors late at night

Oh, no, making fire was very quiet, and I kept later hours myself. I just didn't interrupt him.

and he was a banjo enthusiast, but pretty much strictly between the hours of 2 and 4 in the morning

I will confess that I have once committed long-form, rule-free banjo "exploration" during such hours, but I at least had had a couple years' training in how to mechanically operate the device.

I'm at risk of wondering whether Bela Fleck and Easley Blackwood have ever been seen together.

Well, he was actually pretty good, so I didn't mind too much. I'm not a terribly good sleeper, myself, and have been keeping increasingly odd hours now that I'm on fellowship and not teaching at 9 am every morning.

He was a lot better, in any case, than a guy I lived with in my last year of college. It was a house of (I believe) 7 people, and I was the only female on the premises. One of our housemates - Sebastian - was big into the banjo, but he only ever played two freaking songs over and over again. "King of the Road" and "Big Rock Candy Mountain." I used to like those songs.

He wasn't even supposed to be living there originally in the first place, but our a**hole housemate Mike (who I actually like anyway) moved him into the attic that his room opened into so he could split his rent with him.

I remember when Sebastian's girlfriend at the time broke up with him; he was caterwauling all day and night, and at one point emoted, "She doesn't even like my banjo playing!" We were all like, "Sebastian, nobody likes your banjo playing."

I remember, actually, walking upstairs and seeing him, Sebastian hanging around one day - I knew the guy from various situations - and I said, "What are you doing here?" And he goes, "Aw, I live here now, dawg." He was forever ending every GD sentence than way.

Seb was just a harmless, if obnoxious, idiot, anyway. My buddy, the one who's about 80 these days, used to chide me about my digs:

"You're living with a bunch of barbarians over there."

"Yeah, pretty much."

"Do they even know who Ornette Coleman is?"

"Nah, but maybe I'll play him for 'em some day."

Wolfbeckett @23 - no need for self-reproach: you might not come here so often. Regular lurkers know it could only have been sarcasm from Narad.

By Peter Dugdale (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

is there any other chemical compound that any one knows of that causes apoptosis in cancerous cells? If there was would you take it if all conventional treatments had failed to halt your cancer?

By john green (not verified) on 26 Mar 2015 #permalink

Also given the fact that cannabis is a shedule 1 class B drug in the UK , how is it possible to obtain pre clinical human data ? have you actually met anyone who has successfully shrunk tumors , say an astrocytoma....would you like to ? would you like to have access to Bio chems work at madrid university showing THC to cause apoptosis (automated cell death) ...

By john green (not verified) on 26 Mar 2015 #permalink

@john green - don't be coy. If you are aware of published research showing that cannabis is an effective anti-cancer drug, please share a link to it. Thanks.

Re: "given the fact that cannabis is a shedule 1 class B drug in the UK , how is it possible to obtain pre clinical human data ?" - There certainly are issues with doing legal studies in the UK and USA, however these are not the only countries with first class research institutions. Perhaps some researcher in The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, or Germany would have an easier time. Uruguay could also become a center for cannabis research.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 26 Mar 2015 #permalink

In regard to my comments above about Washington - clearly I remembered wrong. I should check my facts before posting. I retract my statement.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 26 Mar 2015 #permalink

Given that according to Encyclopedia Britannica "Apoptosis also may occur when a cell becomes damaged or deregulated, as is the case during tumour development and other pathological processes. Thus, when functioning properly, the body can induce apoptosis to rid itself of cancer cells." it seems evident that cannabis isn't the only chemical on the world able to induce apoptosis in cancer cells. And ten there is also this, "apoptosis-inducing therapies may actually select for cancer cells resistant to apoptosis."

have you actually met anyone who has successfully shrunk tumors [?]

Why yes, I have. I know several persons who have had their tumors shrink via conventional cancer treatments. Depending on ones interpretation it might be the persons with the cancer, the radiologist or the doctor prescribing or the nurses administering the chemo who you were asking about.

If you have good quality evidence provide it, rather than hint its existence.

"is there any other chemical compound that any one knows of that causes apoptosis in cancerous cells?"

There's nothing special about inducing apoptosis - it's long been a property of anticancer drugs. For instance, here is the abstract of a paper from 1992:

"Most of the cytotoxic anticancer drugs in current use have been shown to induce apoptosis in susceptible cells. The fact that disparate agents, which interact with different targets, induce cell death with some common features (endonucleolytic cleavage of DNA, changes in chromatin condensation) suggests that cytotoxicity is determined by the ability of the cell to engage this so-called 'programmed' cell death. The mechanism of the coupling of a stimulus (drug-target interaction) to a response (cell death) is not known, but modulation of this coupling may affect the outcome of drug treatment. This review surveys the recent evidence which supports the idea that the drug-target interaction per se is not the sole determinant of cellular sensitivity of cytotoxic drugs. Studies of the signals which might engage apoptosis, the genes which modulate it and the biochemical process of drug-induced apoptosis itself are described, where possible, for glucocorticoids, topoisomerase inhibitors, alkylating agents, antimetabolites and antihormones."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1327566

The big difference with cannabis, of course, is that it hasn't been shown to be an effective anticancer drug.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 26 Mar 2015 #permalink

I find it rather shocking that anyone can think they are informed about this topic, yet consider inducing apoptosis to be a unique property of hemp oil. Simply amazing. That other cancer therapies include apoptosis is not exactly a secret. The paper Dangerous Bacon linked to has been cited over 800 times, a quick search finds reams and reams of papers written on the apoptotic properties of various treatments.

There's a big unspoken problem here, and I see it clinically out here in the wild west. These medical marijuana dispensaries act as unregulated quasi-pharmacies. Imagine a pharmacy staffed with untrained techs who were competing with their local neighbors, so encouraged to say less and less honest things about their products. So, not a surprise that the dude with the dreads at "Surreal Medical" (yes, this really exists) is telling a cancer patient that his dank can treat her cancer. And, as some of you point out above, it's not a shock that a desperate or uninformed patient may believe it.
Right now in the US, any healthfood store person / reiki therapist / pot dispensary person can say whatever they want about anything they sell. Licensed providers have to stay within informed consent and full disclosure about the risks and benefits of their treatments. This tilts the playing field in a scary way, and it needs to get fixed right away.

"That’s why I tend to view medical marijuana as a backdoor way to get marijuana legalized."

Come on, David, it's not like you to hold back! "Tend"? A year or so after Michigan's MM voter proposition went into effect, the Kalamazoo Gazette did a story on a local doctor that opened a MM practice. He stated that he charged, IIRC, $190 per "patient" and he insisted that he didn't just blindly hand out the cards to everyone and that he "only" approved people's requests 90% of the time! Now, if the DEA found out that were you handing out Oxycontin scripts to 90% of the people that walked through your door and asked for one, how fast do you think they'd shut you down!

"...would you like to have access to Bio chems work at madrid university showing THC to cause apoptosis (automated cell death)"

In a test tube or in situ?

Matt @51: On Rainier, or on Lake City Way?

I've found that the recreational pot shop (between the church and the bar) has done way more to improve the neighborhood than anything else that had been on that site. And with the bouncer outside it's a lot safer too.

The "medical" shops are all really sketchy, probably at least in part because the owners don't want to put a lot of money into a store that might get shut down at any time.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 26 Mar 2015 #permalink

"He stated that he charged, IIRC, $190 per “patient” and he insisted that he didn’t just blindly hand out the cards to everyone and that he “only” approved people’s requests 90% of the time"

That's another beef I have with 'medical' marijuana. It's just a racket for docs to hand out weed cards. I suppose it's better than the money going to cartels, but it still grates on me. If this is the way we have to go to get to legit legalization, so be it, but let's move in that direction sooner rather than later. I hope CO's outcomes will help with the momentum.

Also, because.
youtu.be/U4r1hUXeRA0

By Roadstergal (not verified) on 26 Mar 2015 #permalink

There are a few other substances that induce apoptosis.

I took a quick look, and didn't see this listed…
https://xkcd.com/1217/

On the other hand, I'd imagine that Gerson doesn't induce much apoptosis.

By justthestats (not verified) on 27 Mar 2015 #permalink

On the other hand, I’d imagine that Gerson doesn’t induce much apoptosis.

It does, but it does it all at once. When it's too late to do any good.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 27 Mar 2015 #permalink

@Narad, back when I was a music grad student in Chicago, I had to get some stuff out of the storage area behind the recital hall and accidentally walked in on Easley Blackwood playing the piano shirtless. I'm not sure which of us was more embarrassed. Never saw him with a banjo, but he did have an awesome party trick of performing a Bach two part invention by whistling one part and singing the other.

By Emma Crew (not verified) on 27 Mar 2015 #permalink

Thanks for addressing this, Orac. I haven't read it or the comments fully yet, but looking forward to doing so tomorrow.

I plan to continue taking cannabis extracts, before and after surgery. It helps me sleep, it helps me stress less about having breast cancer, it improves my mental well-being overall (not just when I'm high) and if it happens to cause apoptosis and impede metastasis and tumor growth as well, all the better. And if I decide to go with chemo, radiation, hormone therapy and targeted therapy, it'll help me get through all that crap as well.

Ken: "I was in a double blind study-I was shocked when I learned I had a placebo effect. Really a skeptic now!
Patients should be educated about placebo effects."

No, you're still a gullible tool, a living placebo effect.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 27 Mar 2015 #permalink

I agree with the fact that medical marijuana has no proof that it can cure cancer, but I do disagree that it is only being said to be used for medical purposes to become legalised, the use of marijuana for the treatment for cancer patients is a vital role due to the fact that it helps relieve pain in a natural way and helps patients relax and sleep better.
u15067841

I agree with the author. There has been no scientific evidence supporting the claim that medical marijuana cures cancer. Legalising it for medical purposes has its advantages and disadvantages. As much as it will help the patient, it will also lead less educated patients into believing that it cures cancer, when that is not true.

By Palesa Zulu (not verified) on 01 Apr 2015 #permalink

Marijuana cannot cure cancer. I agree with the notion that it may ease the pain that patients who suffer cancer feel.

By Amy Whitfield (not verified) on 03 Apr 2015 #permalink

For being a scientist and surgeon, it looks like you have not done your through research. It looks like you are going off of your opinion on the situation instead of actual research and science of the plant.
No matter what you look for you are only going to look for the negative side effects of this plant.
Can you tell me how many people have died from cannabis?
Now, tell me how many people have died from radiation therapy and chemotherapy?
Tell me, what are the side effects of cannabis versus the side effects of chemotherapy?
Are you not aware of the research conducted on cannabis? or the patent held by the federal government for cannabis for not only cancer but also for HIV/AIDS? I feel bad for people like you that misguide others and continue the "reefer madness" psychological programming.
You are a surgeon, you should know the research behind things before you make assumptions that are misguiding to the whole public and do not have, what you call, "science" to back it up.
You mention that there are no trials out there looking at cannabis, however there are.
You do not want to think that plants are a good medicine to use, because the FDA does not approve them, but yet the FDA has approved additives and other ingredients such as aspartame, food colorings, BPA, etc..that clearly cause cancer which you should know being a surgeon.

By Arizona ND (not verified) on 03 Apr 2015 #permalink

Holy hell. "Reefer madness"? Seriously? Did you even frikkin' read the post? I said I was in favor of outright legalization of marijuana. What I don't buy are the claims that cannabis can cure advanced cancer, and I was very clear about the reasons why based on the research.

As for there being no trials about cannabis, there is one, but it's not convincing and only applied to brain cancer, as I discussed in this post:

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2014/08/18/medical-marijuana-and-the-…

If there are any other clinical trials of cannabis as a cancer treatment (not as an adjunct), then, please, show me. If there are, they aren't published yet.

Seriously, you only serve to reinforce all the negative things I think about naturopaths.

Holy hell. “Reefer madness”? Seriously? Did you even frikkin’ read the post? I said I was in favor of outright legalization of marijuana.

doncha love it when someone goes off onto a canned rant without really having heard what you said.
I've experienced it a lot from skeptics - not you personally, but many times.
It's like I'm talking to a vending machine, not a person. I say something - whirr, blatt ... out comes Canned Skeptical Speech #42.
One wants to kick the "vending machine", maybe it would turn back into a person if kicked.

Breast Cancer

A study published in the US National Library of Medicine, conducted by the California Pacific Medical Centre determined that cannabidiol (CBD) inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation and invasion. They also demonstrated that CBD significantly reduces tumour mass.

“Cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid with a low toxicity profile, down-regulated Id-1 gene expression in aggressive human breast cancer cells in culture”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20859676

A study published in The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics determined that THC as well as cannabidiol dramatically reduced breast cancer cell growth. They confirmed the potency and effectiveness of these compounds.

“Cannabidiol is the most potent inhibitor of cancer cell growth.”

http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/early/2006/05/25/jpet.106.105247

A study published in the Journal Molecular Cancer showed that THC reduced tumour growth and tumour numbers. They determined that cannabinoids inhibit cancer cell proliferation, induce cancer cell apoptosis and impair tumour angiogenesis (all good things). This study provides strong evidence for the use of cannabinoid based therapies for the management of breast cancer.

“Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the most abundant and potent cannabinoid in marijuana…reduce tumor growth, tumor number, and the amount/severity of lung metastases in MMTV-neu mice.”

http://www.molecular-cancer.com/content/9/1/196

There is also many studies out there in regards to lung cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic, brain, liver and oral cancers.

As a matter of fact, the US Government holds a patent on “cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.”

http://www.google.com/patents/US6630507

By Arizona ND (not verified) on 07 Apr 2015 #permalink

As a matter of fact, the US Government holds a patent on “cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.”

ZOMG, you mean... it's just like antineoplastinoids?!??. Let's see:

"We claim:
"1. A method of treating diseases caused by oxidative stress, comprising administering a therapeutically effective amount of a cannabinoid that has substantially no binding to the NMDA receptor to a subject who has a disease caused by oxidative stress."

Well, not exactly, if memory serves.

Remember, all patents on products of nature have been fully and finally nullified by Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad. Of course one can patent synthetic cannabinoids. So?

A study published in the US National Library of Medicine

Oops.

Then again, it's always nice when someone tips a cut and paste.

Why go the expensive treatment in hospitals whereby Marijuana/Cannabis oil is here to clean you from cancer and many more illnesses …

That would be because there's actual evidence in teh form of large scale, porperly dewsigned and controlled clinical trials which demonstrate the medical interventions available in hospitals are actually effective treatments for various types of cancer, while there is no evidence demonstrating Marijuana/Cannabis oil represent effective treatments for cancer.

Next question?

@James - I believe the FDA would like to have a word with you.