A Colorado cancer patient is fighting the good fight in every way that he can, including consuming marijuana oil. There is some evidence that cannabinoids will assist chemotherapy in slowing cancer cell reproduction but the evidence is not definitive. If proper research by scientists was permitted by the federal government, answers as to what cannabis could do to help fight cancer might become clearer sooner.
John Kofel was devastated when a biopsy last October showed he had metastatic prostate cancer. Having had a daughter diagnosed with breast cancer in her 30s, he knew firsthand the nightmare cancer can become.
After Kofel made a follow-up visit to an oncologist, his mood changed from shock to anger, not that he had cancer, but at his doctor.
“He was very discouraging, in general,” Kofel recalled. “ ‘You might have 31 months to live.’ … Leaving, I was clearly dazed. I thought, ‘I’m a dead man.’ ”
He also knew that doctor wasn’t for him. (Memo to all cancer patients: If you learn nothing else from this ongoing journal, make sure you have doctors fighting for you.)
Kofel soon after sought a second opinion and was referred to Dr. Edward (Ted) Eigner, of Urology Associates, who changed his life.
“It was like night and day,” Kofel said. “He said, ‘Yes, you have metastatic cancer, but it’s a very solvable, meaning controllable, issue. … It’s very treatable.’ ”
The bioposy of his prostate, after all, showed only four of 12 samples positive for cancer, with a spread to the pelvic bone and one femur. With newfound optimism, Kofel became obsessed about researching a game plan to fight the cancer. He revamped his diet, including what he drank (now exclusively alkaline water), and began taking a list of supplements that fills an 8- by 11-inch notebook page — single spaced. And, in December, he began ingesting oils derived from marijuana plants.
“I’m trying to leave no stone unturned, attacking it from all sides,” Kofel said.
The cannabis oils he uses contain concentrated amounts of two plant compounds: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana that gets you high, and cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating substance that has gained fame for its purported medicinal benefits.
“The combination of both (CBD and THC) causes apoptosis; cannabis tends to go to cancer cells weakened due to chemotherapy and causes them to kill themselves,” Kofel said.
“There is data to suggest cannabis can kill cancer cells in the lab,” said Cindy O’Bryant, a professor at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy. “It appears to affect cancer cells and not normal cells, unlike chemotherapy does, but this is happening in a dish, in the lab, not the human body. Getting it in people to see if it has an effect, therein lies the problem.”
The truth is, as much as is known about cannabis and its effects on the human body, little is known regarding its safety and effectiveness in fighting cancer.
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