NEWS: The National Cancer Institute has stated that cannabis kills cancer cells.
On 16 July 2015, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) updated the FAQ on their web site, Cancer.gov, to include a statement about cannabis and its effect upon cancer cells:
Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory.
While the above-displayed quote does indeed appear on Cancer.gov, this does not mean that cannabis has been proved to kill cancer in humans. In fact, the NCI clarified the referenced statement by saying that insufficient evidence exists to recommend cannabis for use by cancer patients:
There is not enough evidence to recommend that patients inhale or ingest Cannabis as a treatment for cancer-related symptoms or side effects of cancer therapy.
It should also be noted that NCI’s claim that “cannabis kills cancer” cells is based on preclinical studies (research using animals to find out if a drug, procedure, or treatment is likely to be useful). While cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied in clinical trials (research involving human test subjects) for ways to manage the side effects of cancer, Cancer.gov reports that:
No clinical trials of Cannabis as a treatment for cancer in humans have been found in the CAM on PubMed database maintained by the National Institutes of Health. Cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied in clinical trials for ways to manage side effects of cancer and cancer therapies.
Cannabis and cannabinoids may have benefits in treating the symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer therapies. There is growing interest in treating children for symptoms such as nausea with Cannabis and cannabinoids, although studies are limited.
Accordingly, the FDA has not yet approved cannabis as a treatment for cancer:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved Cannabis or cannabinoids for use as a cancer treatment.