As someone who actively researches cancer, and constantly works with cancer survivors, I hear a remarkable amount of crap dealing with “miracle cures” and the always comical “Big Pharma is hiding the cure for cancer”.
But one of my biggest pet peeves is the conversation revolving around marijuana and cancer.
“Cancer Institute Finally Admits Marijuana Kills Cancer” is the name of the article that came across my Facebook feed this morning, and I decided it would be a good time to cover the topic.
But before I get into this specific article, I want to rant quickly of the various and completely fake miracle cures that exist supposedly to cure cancer.
Black Salve– There has been quite a bit of news recently revolving around black salve or Cansema® in the news. This product is a topical paste meant to be administered on skin, covering cancerous lesions, and claims to destroy cancer cells specifically while leaving normal tissue alone.
“Cansema® is very selective in its action, it is escharotic to cancerous tissue and only mildly irritating (i.e. “rubefacient,” causing redness) to healthy skin.”
“Thousands of individuals and physicians from around the world have used the product, with no results only in cases where the cancer was misdiagnosed (i.e. there was really no cancer to begin with). Empirical case studies to date show that it has successfully removed (cured) every malignant carcinoma, adenocarcinoma (i.e. breast cancer), and even melanoma, to which it has been applied.”
The ingredients of black salve notoriously vary, but usually include bloodroot, ginger-root, ganglia, red pepper, and zinc chloride.
Black Salve at face value may seem as a wonderful cure, but in reality has no scientific evidence supporting it works, and in fact shows to be devastating to normal tissue.
Dr. Steven Novella, a medical doctor and prominent science communicator, describes black salve as “an acid” burning away healthy and cancerous tissue alike, completely destroying tissue of all kinds. If you don’t believe me, spend about 5 minutes searching images of black salve treatments and see for yourself.
As a testimonial, a recent nurse diagnosed with ovarian cancer was convinced this pseudo-medicine would cure her late stage cancer. So instead of getting potentially life-saving surgery and chemotherapy, she believed a medical quack, and ended up severely burning her skin ultimately passing away from her advanced disease. The fact that she was a nurse proves even educated individuals who should know better can be conned when facing death.
Diet– I’m sure many of you have heard about one diet or another that has reportedly cured cancer in individuals, and to the disappointment of some, I’m here to say that they all are lies.
Here are some common examples
Alkaline diet- a diet involving adjusting your pH of your blood with food/beverages. The “hypothesis” is that cancer cells live in a normally acidic environment ( usually true) and by adjusting your diet to avoid acidic food, you can destroy the cancer (garbage). The reason this does not work is largely due to our bodies amazing ability to regulate our pH, and believe me this is important. If our blood pH goes below or above the normal range, we will experience severe medical issues. That’s why your kidneys, lungs, and other buffer systems keep the pH tightly in check. So that alkaline water that seems so hip to drink…… is just an expensive con. And so is everything else with the alkaline diet.
Superfood diet- Ah yes. Kale, everyone’s favorite cure for cancer. Don’t get me wrong, Kale and other leafy greens are wonderful to eat (spinach is my favorite), but we shouldn’t let our love of good food get confused with curing diseases. Eating these foods is definitely more healthy than a burger from McDonald’s everyday, but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that super foods specifically cure/prevent diseases, including cancer.
Alternative Medicine– I don’t want to get into alternative medicine as a whole with this blog post, but suffice to say the crap people sell under the umbrella term alternative medicine (Aromatherapy, Homeopathy, Hollistic medicine, Herbalism, Nautropathy, Acupuncture, etc…) is not beneficial to anything, and should not be used as a replacement for standard care.
I could keep going for awhile, but instead I would like to point you to this Wikipedia page, describing a multitude of unproven cancer treatments that summarizes all kinds of alternative, inaccurate treatments.
Let’s Talk About Pot Baby…..
Going back to the article that prompted me to write this blog.
The news item is from USA Health Times, which seems to be a site fully designed for the sole purpose of making marijuana sound like a cure for EVERYTHING. But once you open the many articles pushing pot, the evidence is lacking.
In case you don’t know, marijuana or cannabis, is a plant originally from Central America known around the world for its psychoactive capabilities. These psychoactive traits come from cannabinoids, molecules that act on the central nervous system and immune system. The two most commonly discussed cannabinoids are delta-9 THC and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana.
For many year now, it has been a common theme among marijuana enthusiasts that pot should be used to treat cancer, and “Big Pharma” doesn’t want you to know about it.
The real truth is that science has yet to explicitly prove THC or CBD as a cure for cancer.
There does seem to be some interesting results suggesting TCH, CBD, or a combination of the two as a potential cancer treatment, but none of them are close to conclusive.
After doing a quick pubmed.com search, I found several of articles testing purified TCH or CBD and testing effects in vitro (on cells directly) or in vivo (in animals, typically mice in this case). So far the experiments seem interesting, but not especially promising.
Going back to the USA Health Times article, they specifically describe a “Men’s Health Study” that showed cannabis users have a significant decrease risk of developing bladder cancer than those that don’t.
But, I have not been able to find the study on any site. And from the description, it looks like the data was manipulated to be significant.
“Over 16 years, they found 89 Cannabis users developed bladder cancer compared with 190 of the men who did not report cannabis use. After dividing the study up by age, race, ethnicity, and body mass index, cannabis use was associated with a 45% reduction in bladder cancer incidence.”
After separating the individuals into multiple groups, does it still make a significance? Who knows!
The long and short of my point is this: when someone tells you that Item X is a cure-all for everything, it’s probably not.
So far the evidence for marijuana, THC, or CBD oil is lacking. Perhaps someday there will be evidence that changes my mind, but I doubt it.
And part of the issue with the love for pot and all other miracle cures cancer is due to the massive amount of hate for Big Pharma. “It makes more money to treat a disease, than to cure it.” “Big Pharma has the cure for cancer, but they are hiding it to make money.” Bulls***!
Here’s the truth. Cancer is not one disease, but a collection. There are over 100 different types of cancers, each of them with their own complexities. Even more so, individuals who may even have the same cancer probably face different struggles. Genetic profiling of cancers between patients has shown vast differences even within the same cancer type. So finding just one cure for all cancers seems extremely difficult.
And even if someone found a cure for cancer, why in the world would they hide it? The immediate fame this person would achieve is likely invaluable, surely not even Big Pharma could afford that. Not to mention how difficult it would be to not tell the world? Let’s face it, humans have a tendency to keep secrets about as long as it takes to turn on the phone and tweet. So for those who believe it’s locked away somewhere, it’s unlikely.
As I come to the end of my rant, I would like to mention just one thing. I have nothing against marijuana. If the evidence turns around, I will change the title of this post to Marijuana Is The Cure For Cancer, Hallelujah!
But something tells me that won’t happen. So please, if you know someone or if you yourself have cancer, do not fall victim to the con artists telling you pot or any other miracle cure is better than scientifically based treatments. Listen to your doctors. Find credible sources not trying to sell you snake oil.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, leave them below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter by searching Copernicus Called Blog.
Note: This post is not meant to give medical advice. As I have already mentioned, if you are struggling with a medical disease, please see a physician for proper medical advice.
Remember to be curious, and stay mindful!
- Featured Image- https://www.sciencenews.org/article/confusion-lingers-over-health-related-pros-and-cons-marijuana