Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) prevents the spread of breast cancer cells, according to findings in a new study published in the Journal of Natural Medicines. CBDA, the acidic precursor of cannabidiol (CBD), is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. When CBDA is heated through smoking, vaporization, or decarboxylation, it is converted into CBD.
In the study, the researchers, led by Shuso Takeda of Hokuriku University, found that CBDA inhibited the migration of highly aggressive breast cancer cells.
“The biological activities of CBDA have been attracting increasing attention”, Takeda wrote in the study. He and his researchers “identified CBDA as an inhibitor of the migration of MDA-MB-231 cells, a widely used human breast cancer cell line in cancer biology, due to its highly aggressive nature.”
Takeda’s 2012 study was the first to show that CBDA effectively inhibited the spread of highly invasive human breast cancer cells. In 2014, Takeda and his team found that CBDA helped suppress breast cancer cells by inhibiting cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an enzyme known to be involved in inflammatory processes and in the metastasis of cancer cells.
Takeda found similar results in the most recent study; however, he and his team also possibly identified the molecular mechanism responsible for the CBDA-induced down-regulation of COX-2. Takeda and his research team “describe a possible mechanism by which CBDA abrogates the expression of COX-2 via the selective down-regulation of c-fos, one component of the activator protein-1 (AP-1) dimer complex, a transcription factor for the positive regulation of the COX-2 gene.” The overexpression of C-fos, a proto-oncogene, has been linked to a variety of cancers.
Breast cancer is among the most common types of cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. The non-profit organization Breastcancer.org reports that about 1 in 8 women in the United States (12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer at some point over the course of her lifetime. Both men and women can develop breast cancer and there will be an estimated 246,660 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the U.S. this year.
Previous research suggests that other cannabinoids found in cannabis also have anti-cancer effects. CBD has been found in several animal studies to inhibit the progression of breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancers. Cannabis has also been found to be highly beneficial at mediating the pain, nausea, fatigue, weight loss, sleep disorders, constipation, mood disorders, and itching associated with chemotherapy treatments.
Because of its effectiveness, nearly all of the states that have passed medical marijuana laws have included cancer on their list of approved conditions. CBD and CBDA derived from industrial hemp instead of medical marijuana are non-psychoactive and have been made federally distinct to marijuana in U.S. law. Earlier this year, the Brazilian health authority approved the importation of CBD hemp oil for cancer patients.