Cannabis Extracts Enhance Anti-Tumor Radiation Effects Interview with:
Dr Wai Liu
Senior Research Fellow
St George’s University of London
London,  SW17

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Liu: It has been known for some time that certain chemicals called cannabinoids that are isolated from the cannabis plant possess anticancer action through the ability to enhance/engage apoptosis and autophagy. These effects are both dependent and independent upon the cognate receptors. These are found at relatively high levels in brain cells. Brain tumors tend to express these at high levels and so we felt these would be good candidates.

The main findings of the current study is the ability that combining the cannabinoids THC and CBD with irradiation can cause a reduction in tumor that is greater than the sum of the individual treatments. That is, when using doses of irradiation or cannabinoids individually, the effects were minimal; however, if they were used simultaneously, the effect was synergistic, and tumor growth was significantly impeded.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from this report?

Dr. Liu: Clinicians should take from the study the beneficial synergy seen when irradiation and cannabinoids are used together. We should investigate the benefits in patients now.

THC and CBD are already being trialed in patients with glioma. This however is looking at safety when used with a chemotherapy called temozolomide. I wonder if the data supports the used of cannabinoids with irradiation?


Katherine A. Scott, Angus G. Dalgleish, and Wai M. Liu. The Combination of Cannabidiol and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Enhances the Anticancer Effects of Radiation in an Orthotopic Murine Glioma Model. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, 2014; DOI: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-14-0402


Last Updated on November 19, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD