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"Pot Shrinks Tumors; Government Knew in '74"
Pot Shrinks Tumors; Government Knew in '74
Raymond Cushing, AlterNet
May 31, 2000
The term medical marijuana took on dramatic new meaning in February when
researchers in Madrid announced they had destroyed incurable brain cancer
tumors in rats by injecting them with THC, the active ingredient in
The Madrid study marks only the second time that THC has been administered
to tumor-bearing animals; the first was a Virginia investigation 26 years
ago. In both studies, the THC shrank or destroyed tumors in a majority of
the test subjects.
Most Americans don't know anything about the Madrid discovery. Virtually no
U.S. newspapers carried the story, which ran only once on the AP and UPI
news wires, on Feb. 29.
The ominous part is that this isn't the first time scientists have
discovered that THC shrinks tumors. In 1974 researchers at the Medical
College of Virginia, who had been funded by the National Institute of Health
to find evidence that marijuana damages the immune system, found instead
that THC slowed the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice -- lung and
breast cancer, and a virus-induced leukemia.
The DEA quickly shut down the Virginia study and all further cannabis/tumor
research, according to Jack Herer, who reports on the events in his book,
"The Emperor Wears No Clothes." In 1976 President Gerald Ford put an end to
all public cannabis research and granted exclusive research rights to major
pharmaceutical companies, who set out -- unsuccessfully -- to develop
synthetic forms of THC that would deliver all the medical benefits without
The Madrid researchers reported in the March issue of "Nature Medicine" that
they injected the brains of 45 rats with cancer cells, producing tumors
whose presence they confirmed through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). On
the 12th day they injected 15 of the rats with THC and 15 with Win-55,212-2
a synthetic compound similar to THC.
"All the rats left untreated uniformly died 12-18 days after glioma (brain
cancer) cell inoculation ... Cannabinoid (THC)-treated rats survived
significantly longer than control rats. THC administration was ineffective
in three rats, which died by days 16-18. Nine of the THC-treated rats
surpassed the time of death of untreated rats, and survived up to 19-35
days. Moreover, the tumor was completely eradicated in three of the treated
rats." The rats treated with Win-55,212-2 showed similar results.
The Spanish researchers, led by Dr. Manuel Guzman of Complutense University,
also irrigated healthy rats' brains with large doses of THC for seven days,
to test for harmful biochemical or neurological effects. They found none.
"Careful MRI analysis of all those tumor-free rats showed no sign of damage
related to necrosis, edema, infection or trauma ... We also examined other
potential side effects of cannabinoid administration. In both tumor-free and
tumor-bearing rats, cannabinoid administration induced no substantial change
in behavioral parameters such as motor coordination or physical activity.
Food and water intake as well as body weight gain were unaffected during and
after cannabinoid delivery. Likewise, the general hematological profiles of
cannabinoid-treated rats were normal. Thus, neither biochemical parameters
nor markers of tissue damage changed substantially during the 7-day delivery
period or for at least 2 months after cannabinoid treatment ended."
Guzman's investigation is the only time since the 1974 Virginia study that
THC has been administered to live tumor-bearing animals. (The Spanish
researchers cite a 1998 study in which cannabinoids inhibited breast cancer
cell proliferation, but that was a "petri dish" experiment that didn't
involve live subjects.)
In an email interview for this story, the Madrid researcher said he had
heard of the Virginia study, but had never been able to locate literature on
it. Hence, the Nature Medicine article characterizes the new study as the
first on tumor-laden animals and doesn't cite the 1974 Virginia
"I am aware of the existence of that research. In fact I have attempted many
times to obtain the journal article on the original investigation by these
people, but it has proven impossible." Guzman said.
In 1983 the Reagan/Bush Administration tried to persuade American
universities and researchers to destroy all 1966-76 cannabis research work,
including compendiums in libraries, reports Jack Herer, who states, "We know
that large amounts of information have since disappeared."
Guzman provided the title of the work -- "Antineoplastic activity of
cannabinoids," an article in a 1975 Journal of the National Cancer
Institute -- and this writer obtained a copy at the UC medical school
library in Davis and faxed it to Madrid.
The summary of the Virginia study begins, "Lewis lung adenocarcinoma growth
was retarded by the oral administration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and
cannabinol (CBN)" -- two types of cannabinoids, a family of active
components in marijuana. "Mice treated for 20 consecutive days with THC and
CBN had reduced primary tumor size."
The 1975 journal article doesn't mention breast cancer tumors, which
featured in the only newspaper story ever to appear about the 1974 study --
in the Local section of the Washington Post on August 18, 1974. Under the
headline, "Cancer Curb Is Studied," it read in part:
"The active chemical agent in marijuana curbs the growth of three kinds of
cancer in mice and may also suppress the immunity reaction that causes
rejection of organ transplants, a Medical College of Virginia team has
discovered." The researchers "found that THC slowed the growth of lung
cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and
prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent."
Guzman, writing from Madrid, was eloquent in his response after this writer
faxed him the clipping from the Washington Post of a quarter century ago. In
translation, he wrote:
"It is extremely interesting to me, the hope that the project seemed to
awaken at that moment, and the sad evolution (lastimosa evolucion) of events
during the years following the discovery, until now we once again Odraw back
the veil' over the anti-tumoral power of THC, twenty-five years later.
Unfortunately, the world bumps along between such moments of hope and long
periods of intellectual castration."
News coverage of the Madrid discovery has been virtually nonexistent in this
country. The news broke quietly on Feb. 29 with a story that ran once on the
UPI wire about the Nature Medicine article. This writer stumbled on it
through a link that appeared briefly on the Drudge Report web page. The New
York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times all ignored the story,
even though its newsworthiness is indisputable: a benign substance occurring
in nature destroys deadly brain tumors.
For the full story, pick up "The Emperor Wears No Clothes"
by Jack Herer, or log on for excerpts from the book at www.jackherer.com.
Raymond Cushing is a regular contributor to the
Sacramento News & Review and the Anderson Valley (CA) Advertiser.
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---------additional info in forwarded post:
From: "David Crockett Williams" <email@example.com>
To: ".GeneralAgencyServices" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Cannabis & Cancer
Date: Thursday, June 08, 2000 2:31 PM
From: "Xeno Rasmusson" <email@example.com>
To: "AMMA -TALK@list.kubby.com" <AMMA-Talk@list.kubby.com>
Subject: Cannabis & Cancer
Date: Thursday, June 08, 2000 11:57 AM
Delete this if you don't like science:
After the recent dialog here, I thought I would do something resembling
library research on cannabis & cancer. In particular, the question is
whether cannabis can reduce tumor size, or eliminate them all together.
First, I looked in Grinspoon & Bakalar (first ed., 1992) and they had a
brief mention of cannabis reducing tumor size (p. 132) citing a 1976
book chapter by Harris, Munson, and Carchman titled, "Antitumor
Properties of Cannabinoids," in the TWO VOLUME book, "The Pharmacology
of Marijuana," by Braude & Szara (on Raven Press). Also, in Mikuriya's
"Marijuana: Medical Papers," there is a subject entry, "cancer cure."
The brief mention is in the paper on clinical and metabolic study of the
plant in question by Frances Ames, M.D. (1958) in "Journal of Mental
Science." Ames mentions that among many therapeutic uses, the resinous
oil from cannabis pipes is applied topically as a cancer cure in South
Finally, I searched MedLine, the database of the National Library of
Medicine. I selected the years 1973-1977, to see if what came up under
the keywords for cannabis and cancer. I found six studies total. Two
studied pain, and one nausea in cancer patients, so they aren't quite
relevant here (though the abstracts are below, and the findings were
encouraging). So, there were three studies published in 1973-1977 that
evaluated the effects of cannabis on cancer growth (or in one case,
cancer-related DNA signals). Some are on tissue only, not live
animals. This search did not find the book chapter by Harris, Munson,
and Carchman cited by Grinspoon and Bakalar, but all three of the
studies located here were written by one or more of those authors. The
articles appeared in "Cancer Research", and the "Journal of the National
Cancer Institute." We don't have those years of the journals on our
campus, but they are at CSU Long Beach.
So, there is lots of research out there -- most people don't care, or
don't understand it because it is complex and specialized within each
filed of inquiry. Don't jump to conclusions that the government is
destroying EVERY document that might suggest that "pot is ok, maybe
medicine," though I am sure they have destroyed or supressed some. Some
pharmaceutical companies, or their personnel, may be morally and
ethically corrupt, but please don't assume that all research is
monetarily motivated. Some researchers are driven by fame and
recognition. Still other research (and I believe the majority) is
conducted by people who simply want to uncover knowledge, and they begin
with a complete literature search. BUT -- all research is flawed
somehow, and that is why we must replicate findings and test hypotheses,
rather than boast about our findings and disregard somebody else's.
Yes, the government has stood in the way of cannabis science for years,
but there are 1,730 studies indexed under marijuana or cannabis from
1973-1977 alone. The science is there -- but politicians and voters
rarely read it! So, I hope that can I help this group and others by
Peace, Freedom, & Knowledge,
(cannabis OR marijuana) 1,730 records
(cancer OR tumor) 31,242 records
Combined with "AND":
6 records total; abstracts and publication information below.
MEDLINE (R) Advanced (1973-1977)
TI: Effects of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol in Lewis lung
adenocarcinoma cells in tissue culture.
AU: White-AC; Munson-JA; Munson-AE; Carchman-RA
SO: J-Natl-Cancer-Inst. 1976 Mar; 56(3): 655-8.
AB: We found a dose-related decrease in DNA synthesis in
transformed cell cultures treated with
delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta9-THC). The decrease,
observed over a 4-hour period, was not accompanied by a
change in the radioactive precursor pool as compared to that
of control culture. The distribution of labeled products
clearly differed from that observed after treatment with
cytosine arabinoside. delta9-THC inhibited DNA synthesis at
some point beyond the uptake of 3H-thymidine.
Record 2 of 6 in MEDLINE (R) Advanced (1973-1977)
TI: The inhibition of DNA synthesis by cannabinoids.
AU: Carchman-RA; Harris-LS; Munson-AE
SO: Cancer-Res. 1976 Jan; 36(1): 95-100.
AB: Several of the cannabinoids found in marihuana have
been shown to inhibit tumor growth and increase the
life-span of mice bearing the Lewis lung adenocarcinoma.
When trypsin-dispersed isolated Lewis lung cells are
incubated in vitro, they maintain their capacity to carry out
macromolecular synthesis (RNA, DNA, protein). This
process can be inhibited by cytosine arabinoside,
actinomycin D, or
whereas cyclophosphamide, an agent that must be
bioactivated, was inactive. Inhibition of DNA synthesis as
measured by [3H]thymidine uptake into acid-insoluble
material was used as an index of cannabinoid activity against
isolated Lewis lung cells, L1210 leukemia cells, and bone
marrow cells incubated in vitro delta9-, delta8-,
1-hydroxy-3-n pentyl-, and 1-delta8-tetrahydrocannabinol,
and cannabinol demonstrated a dose-dependent inhibition of
DNA synthesis whereas cannabidiol and
1-hydroxy-3-n-pentylcannabidiol were markedly less
inhibitory in our in vitro cell systems. Furthermore, our in
vitro observations with these cannabinoids are supported by
in vivo tumor inhibition studies. Ring modifications as in
cannabichromene or cannabicyclol abolish in vitro activity
as does dihydroxylation at the 8beta and 11 positions of
Delta9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol demonstrated the least
toxicity of all inhibitory cannabinoids in vivo; this is
supported by its lesser effect on bone marrow DNA synthesis
Record 3 of 6 in MEDLINE (R) Advanced (1973-1977)
TI: The analgesic properties of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol
AU: Noyes-R Jr; Brunk-SF; Avery-DAH; Canter-AC
SO: Clin-Pharmacol-Ther. 1975 Jul; 18(1): 84-9.
AB: The administration of single oral doses of
delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to patients with cancer
pain demonstrated a mild analgesic effect. At a dose of 20
mg, however, THC induced side effects that would prohibit
its therapeutic use including somnolence, dizziness, ataxia,
and blurred vision. Alarming adverse reactions were also
observed at this dose. THC, 10 mg, was well tolerated and,
despite its sedative effect, may analgesic potential.
Record 4 of 6 in MEDLINE (R) Advanced (1973-1977)
TI: Antiemetic effect of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in
patients receiving cancer chemotherapy.
AU: Sallan-SE; Zinberg-NE; Frei-E 3d
SO: N-Engl-J-Med. 1975 Oct 16; 293(16): 795-7.
AB: Anecdotal accounts suggested that smoking marihuana
decreases the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer
chemotherapeutic agents. Oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol
was compared with placebo in a controlled, randomized,
"double-blind" experiment. All patients were receiving
chemotherapeutic drugs known to cause nausea and vomiting
of central origin. Each patient was to serve as his own
control to determine whether tetrahydrocannabinol had an
antiemetic effect. Twenty-two patients entered the study, 20
of whom were evaluable. For all patients an antiemetic effect
was observed in 14 of 20 tetrahydrocannabinol courses and
in none of 22 placebo courses. For patients completing the
study, response occurred in 12 of 15 courses of
tetrahydrocannabinol and in none of 14 courses of placebo (P
less than 0.001). No patient vomited while experiencing a
subjective "high". Oral tetrahydrocannabinol has antiemetic
properties and is significantly better than a placebo in
reducting vomiting caused by chemotherapeutic agents.
Record 5 of 6 in MEDLINE (R) Advanced (1973-1977)
TI: Analgesic effect of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.
AU: Noyes-R Jr; Brunk-SF; Baram-DA; Canter-A
SO: J-Clin-Pharmacol. 1975 Feb-Mar; 15(2-3): 139-43.
AB: A preliminary trial of oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol
(THC) demonstrated an analgesic effect of the drug in
patients experiencing cancer pain. Placebo and 5, 10, 15,
and 20 mg THC were administered double blind to ten
patients. Pain relief significantly superior to placebo was
demonstrated at high dose levels (15 and 20 mg). At these
levels, substantial sedation and mental clouding were
Record 6 of 6 in MEDLINE (R) Advanced (1973-1977)
TI: Antineoplastic activity of cannabinoids.
AU: Munson-AE; Harris-LS; Friedman-MA; Dewey-WL;
SO: J-Natl-Cancer-Inst. 1975 Sep; 55(3): 597-602.
AB: Lewis lung adenocarcinoma growth was retarded by the
oral administration of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol
(delta9-THC), delta8-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta8-THC),
and cannabinol (CBN), but not cannabidiol (CBD). Animals
treated for 10 consecutive days with delta9-THC, beginning
the day after tumor implantation, demonstrated a
dose-dependent action of retarded tumor growth. Mice
treated for 20 consecutive days with delta8-THC and CBN
had reduced primary tumor size. CBD showed no inhibitory
effect on tumor growth at 14, 21, or 28 days. Delta9-THC,
delta8-THC, and CBN increased the mean survival time
(36% at 100 mg/kg, 25% at 200 mg/kg, and 27% at 50 mg/kg,
respectively), whereas CBD did not. Delta9-THC
administered orally daily until death in doses of 50, 100, or
200 mg/kg did not increase the life-spans of (C57BL/6 times
DBA/2)F1 (BDF1) mice hosting the L1210 murine leukemia.
However, delta9-THC administered daily for 10 days
significantly inhibited Friend leukemia virus-induced
splenomegaly by 71% at 200 mg/kg as compared to 90.2%
for actinomycin D. Experiments with bone marrow and
isolated Lewis lung cells incubated in vitro with delta9-THC
and delta8-THC showed a dose-dependent (10(-4)-10(-7))
inhibition (80-20%, respectively) of tritiated thymidine and
14C-uridine uptake into these cells. CBD was active only in
high concentrations (10(-4)).
David Crockett Williams firstname.lastname@example.org
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