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Oncology Update

Cannabinoids May Be Therapeutic in Breast Cancer

Susan Weiss Behrend
ONF 2013, 40(2), 191-192 DOI: 10.1188/13.ONF.191-192

Cannabinoids are a group of compounds synthesized exclusively by the Cannabis sativa plant, commonly known as marijuana. In 1990, the first cannabinoid-specific membrane (CB1) was characterized and cloned (Matsuda, Lolait, Brownstein, Young, & Bonner, 1990), which catapulted biomedical research on these unique compounds. Cannabinoids refer to both marijuana-derived compounds with the active ingredient of 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and also the synthetic molecules that activate the same primary targets as THC. Therapeutic properties of marijuana have been well established; however, the clinical use of either plant-sourced or pure cannabinoids remains limited. The anticachexia properties of cannabinoids are found in tetrahydrocannabinol (oral capsules of synthetically generated THC) and are used to manage weight loss, wasting syndrome, and nausea and vomiting associated with cancer treatment.

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