Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Marijuana for Breast Cancer Treatment?

What is it about marijuana that slows breast cancer spread? I heard about this, but it sounds far-fetched. Is there anything to it?

Answer (Published 1/3/2008)

You probably heard about a study from California showing that a substance in marijuana appears to turn off the activity of a gene that promotes the spread of breast cancer cells. But don't assume that you can get enough of it from smoking marijuana to have this effect.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet! - Everything you need to get started eating a healthful, satisfying diet is here - including eating and shopping guides, over 300 recipes, and an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid! Start your 14-day free trial now - and start eating anti-inflammatory today!

The compound is cannabidiol (CBD). In the study at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, CBD inhibited the activity of a gene called Id-1, which the researchers think is responsible for metastasis - the process by which cancer cells spread from the original tumor to other sites in the body. Id-1 genes are involved in development of the human embryo but then go on "hold" and stay that way unless cancer develops. Then, they can become active and trigger the spread of the disease.

In addition to its ability to block the activity of Id-1 genes, the marijuana compound is said to be far less toxic than the drugs now used for cancer treatment, and therefore may be better tolerated than chemotherapy and, perhaps, radiation therapy. And, no, it doesn't have the psychoactive effects of marijuana itself: if it is ever used on patients, they won't get high.

Much more research remains to be done before CBD could be used to treat breast cancer. So far, studies have been done only in the lab. CBD has yet to be tested against any type of animal or human breast cancer. While these findings are interesting, they're very preliminary.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here