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Breast Cancer and CBD Oil: Current Research and Potential Benefits

As new scientific reports continue to be published on the potential medical applications of cannabidiol (CBD), there is growing evidence to support a possible role for CBD oil in breast cancer treatment.

Conventional methods of treating breast cancer do not involve cannabis or cannabis-derived products like CBD oil. The current standard cancer treatment options are radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery with the hopes of reducing or removing breast cancer cells. A few immunotherapies have also been recently approved for locally advanced and metastatic breast cancer.

These options are not only invasive, but can also have difficult-to-manage side effects. Women undergoing traditional cancer treatment may suffer from severe nausea and neuropathic pain from chemotherapy, and are also more at risk of developing depression.

CBD oil can reduce the side effects associated with treatment and may even be able to kill breast cancer cells.

Here’s what you need to know about CBD oil and breast cancer.

Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Breast Cancer

While there is still not enough scientific evidence to suggest that CBD oil can be used in place of cancer treatments, there are some very encouraging examples of its potential benefits in breast cancer therapy.

Multiple studies have offered evidence that CBD oil “preferentially kills breast cancer cells” by encouraging the apoptosis (death) and autophagy (disassembly and recycling) of diseased cells without harming healthy cells. This is significant because chemotherapy and radiation kill both cancer cells and healthy cells via a broad attack on the body, whereas CBD oil could provide a more targeted alternative approach.

Further research into the role of cannabinoids on cancer cells has found that CBD oil has an effect on angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the development of new blood vessels, which feed tumors and enable them to grow and spread throughout the body. In one study, CBD was found to inhibit angiogenesis and therefore the growth of new tumors, while also promoting apoptosis in tumor cells. The study concluded that CBD’s “dual effect on both tumor and endothelial cells supports the hypothesis that CBD has potential as an effective agent in cancer therapy.”

These research findings are promising and future research should provide a clearer picture of CBD’s potential anti-cancer properties. At the moment, one of the most significant uses of CBD oil, as it pertains to breast cancer treatment, is for the reduction of side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

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CBD Oil for Reducing Cancer Treatment Side Effects

The side effects of cancer treatments can be wide-ranging but most commonly include nausea, pain, and depression, ailments that CBD oil has been known to help alleviate.

CBD Oil for Nausea

CBD oil’s impact on nausea is two-fold as it not only acts as an antiemetic, but has also been found to reduce anticipatory nausea, which is commonly associated with chemotherapy treatment.

The process by which CBD oil reduces the experience of nausea is not yet fully understood. However, it is thought that the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which are targeted by CBD oil, may be linked to the nausea response.

CBD alters the functioning of CB1 receptors, inhibiting the release of the nausea-causing neurotransmitter, serotonin. Furthermore, CBD may also reduce nausea through its interaction with the serotonin receptor 5-HT2A, although this process is not yet completely understood.

In patients who have experienced bouts of nausea after chemotherapy, the experience of anticipatory nausea can be a common occurrence. Triggered by contextual cues, anticipatory nausea is felt before any physical nausea is felt. This phenomenon cannot be treated with antiemetic drugs, as it is caused by processes that are different from those that cause traditional nausea.

While research on the topic has so far only been conducted in lab animals, findings suggest that CBD oil may also be an effective treatment for anticipatory nausea.

CBD Oil for Pain

CBD oil is renowned for its ability to reduce pain and inflammation. During treatment for breast cancer, pain can be wide-ranging and come from a variety of sources. While the tumor itself may damage nerve cells, radiation and chemotherapy can also cause nerve pain.

Glycine receptors in the central nervous system play a significant role in the perception of pain. CBD oil increases the activity of glycine receptors, thereby reducing the experience of neuropathic pain.

CBD Oil for Depression

CBD oil has been shown to possess great potential for improving mood and motivation. It comes as no surprise that people diagnosed with a life-threatening disease like breast cancer are more likely to suffer from depression.

The neurotransmitter anandamide influences the feelings of happiness, motivation, and joy, which is why it’s commonly referred to as the “bliss molecule.” CBD oil is an anandamide reuptake inhibitor, increasing the amount of anandamide available in the brain to ultimately elevate mood.

How to Use CBD Oil for Breast Cancer

There are a handful of different ways to take CBD oil, some of which will be easier than others for breast cancer sufferers. But, before getting into that, make sure you have a serious discussion with your doctor about using CBD oil; when your body is already in a fragile state, it’s crucial to take precautions and extra care. You might also want to speak with a naturopathic doctor who specializes in using CBD for treating medical conditions.

CBD oil drops and transdermal patches are likely the easiest ways to take CBD oil if you have breast cancer. These delivery methods bypass your digestive system so if you’re experiencing nausea or other stomach-related issues from treatment, you’ll still be able to obtain the benefits of CBD.

CBD oil drops and tinctures are absorbed sublingually (under the tongue), which allows CBD to be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, without having to pass through the digestive system. This could be a useful delivery format for the sudden onset of nausea symptoms or cancer-related pain. CBD oil drops also provide the most dosage control, making it easy to adjust the dose as needed.

CBD transdermal patches will not allow for as much control over dosage, but provide the longest-lasting relief. If you’re looking for a ‘set it and forget it’ CBD delivery method, a patch is probably your best option. The CBD is absorbed into your bloodstream through the skin, so it may take a while for the effects to set in at first; however, effects could last for up to 2 days off of just one patch.

CBD oil vapes and edibles are also an option but may be less practical for breast cancer patients. Vapes and edibles may not be appealing when suffering from nausea. CBD capsules could however, be easily worked into your daily medication regimen as long as the CBD doesn’t upset your stomach.

Unfortunately, figuring out the proper CBD oil dosage for breast cancer can be tricky. Because no 2 people are the same, there is no universal dose. Before supplementing breast cancer treatment with CBD oil, it is best to speak with your physician and/or oncologist. Your medical team can help you determine whether or not CBD oil is a good option for you and help you find the dose that is right for you.

Generally speaking, it is best to start with the lowest suggested amount as recommended on the product. If this proves to not be enough, the dosage can be slowly increased over several weeks until the desired effects are achieved.

Effectiveness of Using CBD Oil to Treat Breast Cancer

As mentioned above, CBD oil has great potential to offer relief for breast cancer patients. In addition, by specifically targeting breast cancer cells, CBD oil may offer direct therapeutic benefit by attacking diseased cells without destroying healthy cells.

However, so far, research has largely been conducted in animals, and so further research including human clinical trials will need to be performed before any conclusive statements can be made about CBD as a cancer treatment.

Having said that, the World Health Organization has stated that CBD oil is “generally well tolerated, with a good safety profile.” And because CBD oil products contain less than 0.3% THC, it will not cause the intoxicating effects that are commonly associated with cannabis use. For this reason, CBD oil is a popular supplement to take in conjunction with chemotherapy or radiation therapy to help reduce some of their negative side effects.

More than just being potentially effective for breast cancer, cannabis and CBD oil may have benefits for other types of cancer as well:

Best CBD Oils for Breast Cancer

In order to find the best CBD oil for breast cancer, you need to first make sure that you are buying a high-quality product.

Quality products will not be loaded with chemicals or additives and contain only cannabinoids, terpenes, and a natural, healthy carrier oil like hemp seed oil or coconut oil.

To ensure you’re purchasing a quality CBD oil product, look for a brand that conducts third-party lab tests for their extractions and posts a Certificate of Analysis online. Reading the Certificate of Analysis will help you understand exactly what is in the final product, ensuring that you can correctly identify CBD concentrations and perfect your dose.

As mentioned above, CBD oil drops, tinctures, and capsules are the most convenient ways to take CBD oil but vapes, edibles, and topicals may also be useful. The product or combination of products that works best for you will largely come down to personal preference and accessibility. It may take a little trial and error to determine the best path forward, but the potential relief will be worth the effort.

+ 14 sources


  1. Ashutosh Shrivastava et al. (2011) Cannabidiol induces programmed cell death in breast cancer cells by coordinating the cross-talk between apoptosis and autophagy - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21566064/
  2. M Solinas et al. Cannabidiol inhibits angiogenesis by multiple mechanisms - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22624859/
  3. Linda A Parker et al. Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165951/
  4. Danilo De Gregorio et al. (2018) Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6319597/
  5. Jade M. Franklin et al. (2012) Cannabinoid receptor agonists upregulate and enhance serotonin 2A (5-HT2A) receptor activity via ERK1/2 signaling - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3552103/
  6. Erin M. Rock et al. (2016) Cannabinoids As Potential Treatment for Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4960260/
  7. Wei Xiong et al. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3371734/
  8. Dale G Deutsch A Personal Retrospective: Elevating Anandamide (AEA) by Targeting Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) and the Fatty Acid Binding Proteins (FABPs) - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27790143/
  9. Cannabidiol (CBD) - World Health Organization https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf
  10. T Fisher et al. (2016) In vitro and in vivo efficacy of non-psychoactive cannabidiol in neuroblastoma - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27022310/
  11. Kevin J Brown et al. (2017) Cannabidiol, a novel inverse agonist for GPR12 - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28888984/
  12. Robert J McKallip et al. (2006) Cannabidiol-induced apoptosis in human leukemia cells: A novel role of cannabidiol in the regulation of p22phox and Nox4 expression - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16754784/
  13. Robert Ramer et al. (2011) Cannabidiol inhibits lung cancer cell invasion and metastasis via intercellular adhesion molecule-1 - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22198381/
  14. Pál Pacher Towards the use of non-psychoactive cannabinoids for prostate cancer - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22849856/

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