National Cancer Institute Awards Millions of Dollars to Study Medical Marijuana to Treat Breast Cancer

The National Cancer Institute has awarded millions of dollars to a Florida university to study medical marijuana.

University of Miami has been given a $3.2 million government grant to study the potential medical benefits of marijuana in combatting breast cancer.

The funding is being used to aid the research of Yan Wang, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of epidemiology in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions, and Jennifer J. Hu, Ph.D., a professor in the department of public health sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, who will be overseeing a 12-member team.

As part of the study, researchers will enroll 600 breast cancer patients; 300 medical marijuana patients and 300 individuals who do not use medical cannabis. The government’s grant will cover supplies, travel, personnel, consultants, and other necessary expenses.

According to a university press release, “The team hypothesizes that medical marijuana may improve treatment-related symptoms and clinical outcomes in some patients by targeting and modulating the inflammasome/inflammatory pathway.”

Dejana Braithwaite, Ph.D., associate director for cancer population sciences at the UF Health Cancer Center says that “As many as 40% of U.S. cancer patients use medical marijuana to manage cancer-related symptoms, yet we know very little about its effects during and after cancer treatments,” said Dejana Braithwaite, Ph.D., associate director for cancer population sciences at the UF Health Cancer Center. “This innovative study is an ambitious effort to provide answers to pressing questions about medical marijuana and cancer. It will help doctors address questions about the effects of medical marijuana among cancer patients of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as shed light on the benefits and harms of medical marijuana.”

In Florida medical marijuana was legalized in 2019, and there are currently over 750,000 active medical marijuana patients in the state.

Results of a study published in September “confirm that in vivo CBD blocks development of breast cancer tumors formed by cells induced to malignancy by IL-1β, endorsing its therapeutic potential for cancer treatment.”

A study published in the August issue of the peer-reviewed journal Toxicology in Vitro found that cannabis-based extracts “have great abilities for preventing breast cancer cell metastasis in in vitro experiments.”

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