CBD Oil and Breast Cancer

CBD Oil and Breast Cancer

CBD or cannabidiol is one of the most popular exogenous cannabinoids usually source from Cannabis sativa or industrial hemp.  Its ability to interact with our endocannabinoid system makes it an incredible therapeutic agent. 

Unlike its chemical cousin THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD cannot cause stoned or euphoric feelings.  As CBD seems to be so powerful, we wonder if it can be equally helpful for patients suffering from breast cancer.  Let’s take a quick look at the disease and how CBD can help us. Several researchers have shown that it is implausible helpful in reducing the symptoms of several health conditions such as:

  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Inflammation
  • Epilepsy
  • Nausea

Breast Cancer and Its Symptoms

Breast cancer is one of the leading types of cancer diagnosed in both men and women. Breast cancer occurs when the cells of the breast start to grow abnormally and divide rapidly as compared to the normal rate. It eventually leads to the formation of mass or lump. There are different types of breast cancer but most of them have the following symptoms:

  • Breast lump or thickening
  • Change in the size, shape or appearance of a breast
  • Inverted nipple
  • Crusting, peeling or scaling of skin around the nipples
  • Redness or pitting of breast skin

The biggest problem in breast cancer is it spreads in different parts of the body, and the leading cause of metastatic breast cancer is the BRCA1 gene mutation. This gene’s primary function is to initiate cell differentiation, which induces the growth of cancer cells in the breast.

Due to its anti-metastatic properties, CBD can potentially help inhibit this gene as well as its migration and multiplication, preventing the cancer from spreading.

How Can CBD Help with Breast Cancer?

CBD can provide valuable relief from traditional treatment methods and slow down the tumor’s progression. At the moment, studies are being undertaken to ascertain how exactly CBD can help fight breast cancer, as well as other similar health conditions and illnesses.

Among the anticancer properties of cannabinoids are:

  • Inhibition of the growth of cancer cells (proliferation)
  • Reduction of the viability of tumor cells
  • An antimetastatic effect
  • The onset of cell death (apoptosis)
  • Self-destruction in cells (autophagy)
  • Increasing the sensitization of resistant cancer cells to chemotherapy

CBD, a plant-derived cannabinoid, preferentially kills breast cancer cells by inducing:

  •  ER stress
  • Inhibiting mTOR signaling
  • Enhancing ROS generation
  • Mediating a complex balance between autophagy and mitochondria-mediated apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells.

The relationships are complex, but it is important to note that novel cannabinoid-based drugs might block the metastasis of malignant cells. Thus, there is the possibility that “these substances may serve as feasible add‐on options” to the currently used chemotherapies.

Therefore, many scientists today consider cannabinoids to be a promising agent in the treatment of cancer – and “not only as palliative agents but also as anti-tumor drugs”.

Two of the cancers for which cannabinoids have shown a high anticancer effect are breast and prostate tumors.

What we know

In the UK, scientists investigated the potential benefits of CBD for cancer patients. In return, 119 people with advanced cancer received pharmaceutical grade synthetic CBD. The result of the study: 92 percent of the people showed positive reactions, such as a reduction in tumor cells or a reduced tumor size

Treatment with CBD oil lasted at least six months, and many patients took the drug longer. A shorter period did not show any significant positive effects. No side effects were observed.

Patients with various forms of cancer, including women with breast cancer, took part in the study. In some cases, the size of the tumors in these patients was significantly reduced. The authors of the study, therefore, conclude: “ CBD (cannabidiol) is a candidate for treating breast cancer patients.”

Benefits of CBD oil

The human body consists of a natural endocannabinoid system which is actually a complex network of CB1 and CB2 receptors spread across the body that regulate various important functions including sleep, mood, and inflammation.

Cannabinoids have a recognized role in cancer treatment today. They can help with tumor pain, insomnia, and depression. They can also relieve the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. As an add-on therapy, cannabinoids will make an important contribution to improving the quality of life of cancer patients.

However, cannabinoids are also of interest in science for the primary treatment of cancer. Cannabinoids have been shown to reduce the proliferation and spread of cancer cells. Breast and prostate cancer are two cancers in which cannabis has been shown to have high anticancer effects.

CBD cannabis oil could prove to be an effective complementary medicine that can boost the effectiveness of other forms of treatment.

As an incredible anti-inflammatory agent, CBD can help in reducing inflammation which is our body’s first response to any external or internal stimuli.  Even though inflammation is a beneficial process but too much inflammation or chronic information can slow down the healing process and exposes the body to harmful effects.

Moreover, CBD is also quite helpful in reducing pain perception without causing any other side effects.  Even though opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are more effective but they come with a wide range of severe side effects.  CBD oil is a great alternative to opioids as it can reduce pain perception by interacting with the TRPV1 receptors directly involved in pain management. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy usually cause immense nausea vomiting and changes in appetite.  The anti-emetic properties of CBD can help in reducing nausea and vomiting which will eventually help in regulating appetite to keep up the nutritional level in the body.

The fact that cancer comes with sleep problems and Insomnia is usually because of underlying issues such as anxiety, stress, pain, and inflammation.  CBD has been shown to interact with 5HT1V serotonin receptors.  It boosts the production and uptake of this happy neurotransmitter which is responsible for regulating digestive processes, mood, and many more physiological functions.  A balanced level of serotonin in the blood reduces anxiety and depression to give you enough willpower to get through the hardest part of your life.

CBD can be used through various delivery methods depending upon personal preference and individual requirements.  However, patients with Cancer look for long-lasting effects which are created by oral consumption of CBD.  CBD can be orally consumed in the form of capsules or CBD edibles.  The effect of oral CBD dose can last up to 6 hours giving your body enough time to take a break from the painful sensations.  However, if the patient is looking for quick relief, sublingual absorption and inhalation of CBD can produce effects within minutes but will also fade off more rapidly.


Collectively, the non-psychoactive plant-derived cannabinoid CBD exhibits pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative actions in different types of tumors and may also exert anti-migratory, anti-invasive, anti-metastatic and perhaps anti-angiogenic properties. On the basis of these results, evidence is emerging to suggest that CBD is a potent inhibitor of both cancer growth and spread.

The efficacy of CBD is linked to its ability to target multiple cellular pathways that control tumorigenesis through the modulation of different intracellular signaling depending on the cancer type considered.

These findings support the continued exploration of CBD as an alternative agent for breast cancer treatment.

However, the potential clinical application of CBD for cancer therapy needs some consideration. Its low toxicity is certainly a good starting point. CBD behaves as a non-toxic compound; indeed oral administration of CBD 700 mg day−1 for 6 weeks did not show any overt toxicity in humans.



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Massi, P., Solinas, M., Cinquina, V., & Parolaro, D. (2013). Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug. British journal of clinical pharmacology75(2), 303–312.

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