CBD For Cancer: Prevent, Treat, or Cure?

WRITTEN by Caleb

 | Last revised

I’d hazard a guess and say most people’s lives have been affected by cancer in one way or another.

Whether it’s a personal cancer diagnosis or that of a loved one, the news is never easy to hear.

However, with modern advancements in the medical industry the range of treatment options is ever-expanding and it is now very commonplace to see cannabis as a prescribed (or not) medicine during and after other mainstream treatments such as chemotherapy.
What place does medical cannabis have in cancer treatment?

Can CBD oil cure cancer? Can it prevent it? At the very least, can your cancer treatments benefit from a dose of CBD oil?

And let’s not forget powerful pain-relieiving and anti-nausea effects THC can offer cancer patients.[1]

The answers to these questions are complicated because cancer itself is a complex disease.

There isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all answer. But we will explore what the latest research says about cannabinoid therapy during cancer.

What is Cancer?

The human body is made up of trillions of cells. When cells grow old or get damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.

Cancer is when this process malfunctions and damaged cells grow and multiply, severely affecting the immune system.

Of course, there isn’t just one type of cancer. And while damaged cells can form tumours, not all tumours are cancerous.

There are over one hundred types of cancer. And likewise, there are many cancer treatments like chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and surgery, to name a few.[2]

So what is the appeal of CBD oil for cancer patients?

Does Science Support CBD Oil for Cancer?

Fortunately, the research is on your side if you’re looking at CBD for cancer.

A review of the literature published by the National Cancer Institute suggests CBD might aid certain cancer treatment drugs.[3]

Cancer in the brain or spinal cord requires radiation therapy, which can damage healthy cells while trying to eradicate cancer cells. Turns out CBD makes cancer cells more susceptible to radiation while protecting the healthy ones.[4]

Researchers have found CBD effective for managing prostate cancer and breast cancer.[5][6]

A 2017 study showed that CBD made anti-leukemia drugs more effective.[7]

There’s plenty more research which we’ll get to below. But for now, research tends to support CBD as a supplement to your cancer treatments.

How CBD Oil for Cancer Works

When it comes to cancer, sometimes the treatment feels worse than the disease. Nowhere is this more obvious than with chemotherapy.

While chemotherapy effectively treats cancer, its side effects can include fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea. CBD is known to help with these symptoms. And not just general fatigue or nausea.

At least two studies have examined how CBD can reduce nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.[8][9]

Pain is another symptom of cancer and cancer treatments. CBD is known to be a pain reliever. But what about cancer-specific studies?

One study found CBD, when combined with THC, was good at relieving pain in patients with advanced cancer. This CBD:THC combo beat out opioids for effective relief.[10]

Of course, marijuana and cancer treatments have had a symbiotic relationship regarding appetite.

One challenge of cancer treatments like chemotherapy is a patient’s reduction in hunger.

While THC is known to increase your desire for food, a 2018 study on CBD users found hunger as a side effect. [11]

Although, whether CBD alone increases your appetite isn’t well established.

Does CBD Cure Cancer?

As mentioned, there isn’t just one type of cancer.

But for cancers activated by chronic inflammation, then, yes, CBD can provide more than just supplementary benefits to traditional cancer treatments.[12]

Does this constitute a cure for cancer?

Several studies have indicated that CBD oil suppresses tumour growth in breast cancer cells. [13][14]

A study on animals found evidence of cannabinoids impeding tumour cells.[15]

A 2014 study found cannabis extracts with high amounts of CBD weakened colon cancer formation.[16]

Likewise, a data review suggested that phytocannabinoids slow down tumour growth.[17]

Another study found promising results regarding cannabis and bladder cancer.[18]

Research is limited and it’s impossible to claim anything is a 100% fool-proof cure.

But if the scientific literature we do have is of any indication, focusing on phytocannabinoids as a cancer cure is a step in the right direction.

As it stands, there is currently no clinical evidence that CBD oil can cure, treat, or prevent cancer.

But lack of evidence doesn’t discount the promising studies and anecdotal reports from around the world.

A thumb and forefinger holding a CBD capsule in place with tiny hemp leaves inside

Pros and Cons of CBD for Cancer

To summarise what we’ve covered here, let’s break this down into a list of pros and cons.


  • CBD is considered safe and “generally well tolerated” by the World Health Organization
  • CBD is non-addictive and doesn’t produce the intoxicating effects of THC
  • Many studies show how CBD helps with cancer-related symptoms like inflammation, pain, loss of appetite, and nausea.
  • Studies show CBD may actually suppress tumour growth
  • CBD can interact with some cancer treatment medications positively


  • CBD can interact with medications negatively
  • Some of these studies are too limited to be conclusive.
  • CBD can produce side effects like diarrhea, which, for someone with a compromised immune system, can be a serious concern
  • No clinical evidence exists that CBD can treat, cure, or prevent cancer.

CBD Oil for Cancer Patients in Australia

Medical cannabis is legal in Australia through the TGA. But the available CBD remains cost-prohibitive for many patients.

The black or “green” market has high-potency CBD products. There’s no shortage of stories of cancer patients accessing plant medicines outside of the current regulatory framework.

You (or your loved one) may also want to try out a full-spectrum product.

Full-spectrum means all the phytonutrients, like cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, work together to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

As far as potency is concerned, there is no standard dose of CBD for cancer. We suggest you keep a journal and track how you feel.

CBD for cancer treatment is a popular option, and it’s little wonder why.

With promising studies and more research every year, someday, we’ll better understand why CBD for cancer works.

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1. Terence Ng; Vikas Gupta., "Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)".
NCBI Bookshelf.
2. N/A, "A to Z List of Cancer Types".
3. N/A, "Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version".
4. Vladimir N Ivanov, Jinhua Wu, Tony J C Wang, Tom K Hei, "Inhibition of ATM kinase upregulates levels of cell death induced by cannabidiol and γ-irradiation in human glioblastoma cells".
5. Juan A Ramos, Fernando J Bianco, "The role of cannabinoids in prostate cancer: Basic science perspective and potential clinical applications".
6. Sean D McAllister, Ryuichi Murase, Rigel T Christian, at el., "Pathways mediating the effects of cannabidiol on the reduction of breast cancer cell proliferation, invasion, and metastasis".
7. Katherine A Scott, Angus G Dalgleish, Wai M Liu, "Anticancer effects of phytocannabinoids used with chemotherapy in leukaemia cells can be improved by altering the sequence of their administration".
8. Keith A Sharkey, Nissar A Darmani, Linda A Parker, "Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system ".
9. Linda A Parker, Erin M Rock, Cheryl L Limebeer, "Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids ".
10. Jeremy R Johnson, Mary Burnell-Nugent, Dominique Lossignol, at el., "Multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC:CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain".
11. Jamie Corroon, Joy A Phillips, "A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users".
12. Prakash Nagarkatti, Rupal Pandey, Sadiye Amcaoglu Rieder, at el., "Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs".
13. Ashutosh Shrivastava, Paula M Kuzontkoski, Jerome E Groopman, Anil Prasad, "Cannabidiol induces programmed cell death in breast cancer cells by coordinating the cross-talk between apoptosis and autophagy".
14. Sean D McAllister, Ryuichi Murase, Rigel T Christian, at el., "Pathways mediating the effects of cannabidiol on the reduction of breast cancer cell proliferation, invasion, and metastasis".
15. Guillermo Velasco, Sonia Hernández-Tiedra, David Dávila, Mar Lorente, "The use of cannabinoids as anticancer agents".
16. Barbara Romano, Francesca Borrelli, Ester Pagano, at el., "Inhibition of colon carcinogenesis by a standardized Cannabis sativa extract with high content of cannabidiol".
17. Golnaz Sharafi, Hong He, Mehrdad Nikfarjam, "Potential Use of Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer".
18. Barbara Dariš, Mojca Tancer Verboten, Željko Knez, Polonca Ferk, "Cannabinoids in cancer treatment: Therapeutic potential and legislation ".


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Disclaimer. While we strive to relay the most factual education available, this shouldn’t replace official medical or legal consultation and recommendation. This is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Happy days.

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