Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, and one of the most dangerous ones. In the United States, it’s the second highest cancer in terms of mortality rate. Thankfully, that means many scientists are focusing their efforts on it, trying to find new ways of treating it and saving men’s lives. As part of this research, we’ve also discovered that CBD, a cannabis derivative, has anti-cancer properties. In this article, we’ll go over the most recent studies and explain what they can mean for those with prostate cancer.
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that affects a small gland called the prostate. This gland is found just under the bladder, and its main purpose is to produce semen.
Men over the age of 50 are likely to experience growths in that area. For example, studies have found that 1 in 3 men over 50 has some form of tumor in his prostate area. The prostate is a place where cells sometimes multiply more than they should, creating a small growth.
In the majority of cases, these tumors are benign, because they don’t evolve fast and don’t spread to the rest of the body. But sometimes, growths in the prostate turn into malignant tumors, which means that they threaten to spread to other surrounding parts of the body. This is what we call prostate cancer.
If prostate cancer is left untreated, it will spread to neighboring organs like the bladder. In time, it can even spread to other parts of the body, including the bones or the lymphatic system.
How do you get prostate cancer?
The scientific community is still unsure about what causes prostate cancer.
However, they’ve identified a few factors that can make you more likely to get prostate cancer:
- Age: Prostate cancer is very rare in those under 40. Scientists believe that the DNA in prostate cells gets damaged past a certain age, which is why your risk of getting prostate cancer increases past the age of 50.
- Lifestyle: Certain unhealthy habits can make you more likely to get prostate cancer. Those include smoking, eating unhealthily, being overweight and not getting enough exercise.
- Genetics: The more relatives you have who have had prostate cancer, the more likely you are to get it yourself. This is because certain genes can predispose you to get malignant growths in the prostate area.
What are the warning signs of prostate cancer?
There are a few warning signs that indicate you may have prostate cancer. However, you can also have a tumor without showing any signs. That’s why you shouldn’t wait until you have symptoms to get screened for prostate cancer, especially once you reach the age of 55.
It’s also good to keep in mind that these warning signs can have a cause other than prostate cancer. So if you experience them, make sure to visit your doctor to discuss them and find out their cause. The five major warning signs are:
- Urinary troubles: This includes needing to urinate more frequently, or having trouble urinating.
- Blood in urine: There could be a lot of causes for finding blood in your urine, but it is also a warning sign of prostate cancer.
- Blood in semen: This is somewhat more worrying than finding blood in your urine, and it’s a sign you may have prostate cancer.
- Erectile dysfunction: Experiencing difficulties getting and maintaining an erection could be a sign of prostate cancer.
- Pain when urinating or ejaculating: If urinating or ejaculating has become painful, it may be a sign of prostate cancer.
Can prostate cancer be cured?
Some forms of prostate cancer can be cured. Generally speaking, the sooner you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer, the better your odds are of curing it. The more your tumor grows and spreads, the harder it will be to stop it. That’s why early detection is key. Every type of cancer requires a slightly different approach, so your doctor will need a lot of tests and examinations to determine what you need.
Treatment options for prostate cancer include:
- Surgery: A surgeon can remove a tumor in your prostate or the whole prostate through surgery. This will stop the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body if it hasn’t already done so.
- Radiation therapy: This form of treatment uses highly powered beams to kill harmful cancer cells in the prostate.
- Cryotherapy: This option involves freezing the prostate to destroy cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: This therapy uses special drugs to kill the tumor from the inside.
- Hormonal therapy: With hormonal therapy, doctors give you drugs that lower your testosterone levels. This helps to stop the growth of the prostate, which is very responsive to these “male hormones.”
Does CBD help prostate cancer?
Yes, early studies show that CBD helps to treat prostate cancer by killing off cancerous cells. However, these experiments have been conducted on cell cultures, not on real people. We still need more research to determine whether CBD is actually effective.
What’s more certain is that CBD helps people with prostate cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy or other forms of treatment. In particular, it can stop nausea and help them with any mental health symptoms.
Overall, CBD is a safe substance that can be used to supplement most forms of prostate cancer therapy.
What is CBD?
CBD is the short name for cannabidiol. It’s a molecule found in the cannabis plant that has a lot of benefits for mental and physical health. For example, it can help with seizures, inflammation, acne, eczema, depression and even PTSD.
CBD works by giving a boost to something called the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The ECS is a biological system that runs through the whole body, regulating pain, stress, appetite, blood pressure and countless other crucial body functions.
When we take CBD, it binds with the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. In turn, they give messages to different parts of the body, which can influence how we feel, how we digest, how we sleep… and even how we fight cancer.
CBD products that contain trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%) are now legal on a federal level in the United States. However, they are not FDA-approved, and may still be illegal in certain states. Check your local laws before making a purchase.
How does it work on prostate cancer?
So how does CBD affect prostate cancer cells? Studies show that CBD can kill cancer cells, which reduces the size of prostate cancer tumors.
To understand how this works, we need to know a bit more about what makes cancer cells dangerous. Every cell in our body has a certain life expectancy. It’s born, it reproduces, and then it dies. This process ensures that our bodies are made up of new and fresh cells. A problem arises when cells stop dying. A cancer cell is a cell that has a mutation in its DNA. As a result of that mutation, it multiplies very fast without dying. If these cells are not stopped on time, they will keep on reproducing without dying, creating tumors and other problems throughout the whole body.
In scientific language, the death of cells is called apoptosis. Sounds bleak, but when you’re dealing with cancer, apoptosis is exactly what you want.
The good news is a 2012 Italian study showed that CBD induced cell apoptosis. In other words, it caused cancerous cells to die. They found the same results when observing the effects of CBD on cell cultures and on mice with prostate cancer. The scientists behind the study concluded that their data showed CBD had potential in treating prostate cancer, even in humans.
Another study, also published in 2012, found similar results. Scientists observed that putting CBD on prostate cancer cells inhibited their growth and even caused cancerous cells to die.
The limitation of these studies is that they were conducted on cell cultures and animals, rather than on real people. And this makes sense: scientists don’t want to test potentially ineffective substances on people who need real treatment. But the scientists who conducted both studies argued that their findings were enough to justify starting clinical trials testing out CBD on people with prostate cancer.
One thing to note is that CBD can be combined with other cancer-fighting drugs. For example, authors of the Italian study found that CBD worked by itself, but also when used in conjunction with other prostate cancer treatment drugs such as the chemotherapy drug Taxotere and the hormone therapy drug Casodex. That means we could test out the potential benefits of CBD on people with prostate cancer while still using tried-and-tested treatments at the same time.
CBD could help those going through chemotherapy
Based on the early stages of cancer research on CBD, it’s unlikely that it will be used on its own. Doctors will probably prescribe it alongside more conventional forms of treatment like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This could actually be a very good thing, because we know that CBD has the potential to reduce the painful side effects of these treatments.
For example, people undergoing chemical or radiation treatment for prostate cancer often find that it gives them nausea. This side-effect can be very distressing and can even stop cancer patients from feeding themselves properly. CBD oil help with chemotherapy because it has been shown to reduce nausea and vomiting.
Pain is also one of the side effects of these treatments. In fact, the pain from chemotherapy can last for months after the treatment ends. CBD could help because it works as a painkiller, and can address most types of pain. Not only that, but it’s also much safer than other types of painkillers such as NSAIDs or opioids. It could make conventional treatments for prostate cancer a lot more bearable.
In that sense, using CBD alongside chemotherapy and radiotherapy shows two main benefits:
- It could help cancer patients deal with the side effects of their treatment.
- It could make treatments more effective by facilitating apoptosis, or the death or cancerous cells.
CBD and mental health for prostate cancer patients
Finally, we can’t ignore the mental and emotional effects of prostate cancer. Being diagnosed with a dangerous tumor is certainly enough to create a lot of stress and anxiety. For some people, this can even turn into depression.
When battling prostate cancer, it’s important to create or maintain a strong support network. This may be in the form of a support group, trusted friends, or a strong marriage. Whatever you’re going through, there are groups and associations that are there to support you and offer you the help you need in navigating these difficult times.
And if you’re taking CBD to help you manage the side-effects of your treatments, it could also help you maintain a healthy state of mind. Studies have shown that CBD has a lot of benefits for mental health, including decreasing anxiety, fighting stress, treating depression, improving sleep, and even preventing nightmares.
Is CBD safe for those with prostate cancer?
CBD shows a lot of potential in helping those with prostate cancer—but is it really safe? The answer will depend on the medicine(s) you are currently taking.
On its own, CBD is a very safe substance and only has a few mild side effects. But when combined with other drugs, it can sometimes be dangerous. That’s why you should always consult with a doctor before taking CBD if you’re on any kind of medication. They will be able to advise you on possible interactions and tell you whether it’s safe to take CBD.
How much CBD do you need to take for prostate cancer?
If you’ve decided to give CBD a try, you’ll find there are a lot of options at your disposal. You could take CBD capsules, munch on CBD gummies, place CBD oil drops under your tongue or even use a CBD vape. All these methods of consumption have their benefits and drawbacks. But the most important thing is to find one that you enjoy and that encourages you to keep on taking CBD day after day. This is because CBD works best when you take it over the long term. To learn more about different products and how they work, you can read our guide here.
When it comes to finding the right dose for you, it will likely take a bit of trial and error. There is no “one size fits all” dose when it comes to CBD. Instead, you’ll have to find a balance: a dose that gives you the effects you want (decreased pain, decreased nausea, improved sleep) without causing too many side effects (like lethargy or irritability). To get a better sense of the dose for you, we encourage you to work with a doctor who specializes in CBD and/or natural medicine.
Although the research is still in its early stages, it does seem that CBD can be useful in treating prostate cancer. Not only does it kill cancerous cells, it also fights the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and works to improve the mental health of cancer sufferers. We’re hoping to see a lot more studies on CBD and prostate cancer in the future.
Prostate Cancer Facts and Figures
CBD for prostate cancer
2012 study on the effects of CBD on prostate cancer cells death (in vitro and in vivo)
2012 study on CBD and prostate cancer cells apoptosis
CBD and the side-effects of cancer treatment
2011 study on the effects of CBD oil on nausea and vomiting
2008 study on the effects of CBD for pain management
2018 review of research on cannabinoids and pain
CBD and mental health
2018 review of the effects of CBD on physical and mental health conditions
2019 study on CBD for anxiety and sleep
2019 study on the effects of CBD for stress reduction
2014 study on the antidepressant effects of CBD
Safety of CBD
2017 study on the safety and side effects of CBD
2019 review of potential interactions between cannabinoids and synthetic drugs