Wouldn't it be funny if governments were spending mountains of money to make a substance illegal that prevents brain and prostate cancer, alzheimers and osteoporosis? Or would it be tragic? How about tragicomedy. The research on the benefits of marajuana smoking keeps piling up. Read and laugh; or weep; or both, at the two research articles below.
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Following the growing interest in medical benefits of cannabis, a new study finds that the compound can help fight prostate cancer.
According to the study published in the British Journal of Cancer, chemicals found in cannabis can stop prostate cancer cells from growing in the laboratory.
Its active chemicals known as cannabinoids -- methanandamide and JWH-015 -- are also reported to be effective in reducing the size of the tumor in mice.
The compound is believed to block CB2 receptors on the surface of the cancerous tissue, preventing the division and growth of the tumor cells. It is reported to be more effective in treating aggressive prostate cancer cell types, which do not respond to existing hormone treatments.
Scientists hope that cannabis-based medicines could help fight prostate cancer in the near future.
They, however, stressed that an individual should not start smoking cannabis with the aim of fighting the disease as its use is associated with psychotropic effects.
Researchers looking at the effects of cannabis on bones have found its impact varies dramatically with age.
The study found that while the drug may reduce bone strength in the young, it could protect against osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones, in later life.
The results were uncovered by a team at the University of Edinburgh who compared the drug's effects on mice.
Osteoporosis affects up to 30% of women and about 12% of men at some point in their lives.
The group found that cannabis can activate a molecule found naturally in the body that is key to the development of osteoporosis.
When the type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1) comes into contact with cannabis, it has an impact on bone regeneration.
However, until now, it was not clear whether the drug had a positive or negative effect.
Researchers, funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign, investigated this using mice which lacked the CB1 receptor.
The scientists then used compounds - similar to those in cannabis - that activated the CB1 receptor.
They found that compounds increased the rate at which bone tissue was destroyed in the young.
Despite this, the study also showed that the same compounds decreased bone loss in older mice and prevented the accumulation of fat in the bones, which is known to occur in humans with osteoporosis.
Stuart Ralston, the Arthritis Research Campaign Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Edinburgh, who led the study, said: "This is an exciting step forward, but we must recognise that these are early results and more tests are needed on the effects of cannabis in humans to determine how the effects differ with age in people.
"We plan to conduct further trials soon and hope the results will help to deliver new treatments that will be of value in the fight against osteoporosis."
The results are published in Cell Metabolism.