People suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, which leads to chronic inflammation, are on the fast track to colon cancer, but prevention might begin with cannabis.
Young adults typically brush off the risk of colon cancer as an old man’s disease, yet the illness is becoming increasingly common in people under the age of 50. Consider the tragic outcome of Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman, who died at age 43 after a heroic battle with colon cancer—despite his otherwise impeccable physique and health.
A class of conditions exhibiting variable levels of severity are called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—difficult-to-treat conditions ranging from ulcerative colitis to Crohn’s disease. IBD can lead to chronic inflammation, which can lead to oncogenesis, or progress into cancer. Colon cancer, in particular, is a disease with relatively grim survival rates and only a handful of viable options for treatment. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that 1.3% of all U.S. adults reported receiving a diagnosis for IBD, and the condition usually creates a domino effect of other symptoms.
New research, however, suggests that cannabis’ psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) could help prevent colitis-associated colon cancer in mice.
A team of researchers associated with the University of South Carolina (USC) in Columbia observed the effects of THC in mouse models to evaluate the potential efficacy of the compound in preventing colon cancer in humans. The team’s research was published last month in an issue of iScience.