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Cancer patients denied cannabis, made to do chemo instead

Requests for cannabis oil – identified as an effective treatment for the type of cancer in question by research published in Advance Access, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Germany) in 2007 – were turned down at Mater Dei.

raphael_vassallo
Raphael Vassallo
30 September 2013, 12:00am
Cannabis oil was identified as an effective treatment
Cannabis oil was identified as an effective treatment


Several studies by top medical researchers, including from Harvard University, have concluded that the drug cannabis sativa (aka marijuana) provides more effective treatment for different types cancer than chemotherapy, without the severe side effects associated with the exposure to radiation.

But patients who seek this alternative form of therapy in Malta are denied access to cannabis-based products, on the pretext that the plant from which they are derived is listed on the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance of 1971.

One local patient, who asked not to be named, contacted MaltaToday to recount his own experiences after reading an article about the medical properties of marijuana in our Wednesday edition.

"I am currently undergoing cancer treatment at Mater Dei Hospital, with the usual chemotherapy and medicine they stuff into you here... and I'm also a person who really believes in the medical benefits of marijuana."

His requests for cannabis oil - identified as an effective treatment for the type of cancer in question by research published in Advance Access, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Germany) in 2007 - were turned down at Mater Dei.

"I would like for doctors to start to think about the beneficial use of marijuana in certain diseases... I have also forwarded to my doctors some studies, but it's all in vain, as these people are the salesman of big pharma companies."

Cannabis is not the only alternative remedy unavailable in Maltese hospitals. Requests for entirely legal, nutrition-based remedies have likewise fallen on deaf ears.

"Doctors are not keen on using natural remedies and good nutrition in helping to treat this disease, like superfoods and herbal supplements, which are of great benefit to our immune system. If you see the hospital's food, it's like you went to McDonalds: a really disgusting food prepared for the masses..."

Efforts to contact the Oncology Unit at Boffa Hospital on its listed telephone numbers this week proved futile, with one hospital receptionist eventually admitting (when contacted through the customer care unit at Mater Dei) that the telephones had been deliberately disconnected so as not to receive calls.

"We're very busy today," was the official reason for this bizarre state of affairs.

It is not known exactly how many patients have requested cannabis-based products to treat cancer. But there is mounting evidence that Malta's medical establishment may simply be unaware of the in-depth research that has been conducted into the subject of medical marijuana over the past decade.

Dr George Grech, clinical director of Malta's drug dependency unit, Sedqa, admitted that he had never heard of studies that were published in the British and American Journals of Medicine (among many others) about the success rate of cannabis in treating cancerous tumours.

"As far as I am aware there is research going on, mostly in the USA, about the use of cannabis as a painkiller in cases of terminal illness. Researchers are trying to separate the beneficial components of the plant from other components that have been linked to psychosis," he said.

Commenting only about the use of cannabis to treat pain, Grech said that local patients were not being denied treatment, because "there are alternative painkillers to cannabis".

But medical research goes well beyond these claims: on Wednesday this newspaper published a synthesis of the conclusions of 20 medical studies - all published in respected medical journals from institutions such as the US National Library of Medicine, Harvard University and the British Medical Journal - that suggest the chemical properties of cannabis sativa may be useful in the treatment of various cancers and also other conditions such as diabetes, muscular dystrophy and motor neurone disease.

A list of these studies is appended to this article.

Among them is a 2007 study by Harvard University and published by the American Association for Cancer Research, which discovered that "the active ingredient in marijuana (THC) cuts tumour growth in common lung cancer by half, and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread.

"Researchers injected standard doses of THC into mice that had been implanted with human lung cancer cells, and found that tumours were reduced in size and weight by around 50% in treated animals, compared to the control group. There was also a 60% reduction in cancer lesions on the lungs in these mice, as well as a significant reduction in protein markers associated with cancer progression."

Similar findings were registered in subsequent tests which also looked at other forms of cancer.

Among the different strains that responded well to treatment using THC were brain tumours, pancreatic, breast, blood and liver cancers.

Nor are the medical properties of marijuana limited to cancer, it would seem. Last May, Time magazine published the results of a study suggesting the substance could also be used to treat diabetes, a condition which is understood to affect a staggering 15% of Malta's population.

Citing a study published by The American Journal of Medicine, Time observed that "the research included over 4,600 men and women participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2010. Among them, 48% had smoked marijuana at least once in their lives, and 12% were current cannabis smokers. The authors controlled for other factors like age, sex, income, alcohol use, cigarette smoking and physical activity that could also affect diabetes risk.

"Even after these adjustments, the current marijuana users showed fasting insulin levels that were 16% lower than those of former or never users, along with a 17% reduction in another measure of insulin resistance as well. Higher levels on both tests are associated with Type 2 diabetes, which is linked with obesity. Marijuana users also had higher levels of high-density lipoprotein, the so-called good cholesterol, which can protect against heart disease."

 

Hope from dope: how different cancers can be treated using marijuana

Brain cancer
  • A study published in the British Journal of Cancer and conducted by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Complutense University in Madrid found that THC (the main active compound in marijuana) decreased tumour cells in two out of the nine patients.
  • A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience examined the biochemical events in both acute neuronal damage and in slowly progressive, neurodegenerative diseases. They found that THC reduced neuronal injury in rats, and that the cannabinoid system can serve to protect the brain against neurodegeneration.
  • A study published in The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics concluded that cannabidiol (CBD, a property of cannabis) was able to produce a significant anti-tumour activity.


Breast cancer
  • A study published by the US National Library of Medicine and conducted by the California Pacific Medical Centre determined that cannabidiol inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation and invasion. They also demonstrated that CBD significantly reduces tumour mass.
  • A study published in The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics determined that THC as well as cannabidiol dramatically reduced breast cancer cell growth.
  • A study published in the journal Molecular Cancer showed that THC reduced tumour growth and tumour numbers. They determined that cannabinoids inhibit cancer cell proliferation, induce cancer cell apoptosis and impair tumour angiogenesis.


Lung cancer
  • A study published in the journal Oncogene, by the Harvard Medical School's Experimental Medicine Department determined that THC inhibits epithelial growth factor-induced lung cancer cell migration and more.
  • A study published by the US National Library of Medicine determined that cannabinoids inhibit cancer cell invasion. Effects were confirmed in primary tumour cells from a lung cancer patient. Overall, data indicated that cannabinoids decrease cancer cell invasiveness.
  • A study published by the US National Library of Medicine and conducted by Harvard Medical School investigated the role of cannabinoid receptors in lung cancer cells. They determined its effectiveness and suggested that it should be used for treatment against lung cancer cells.


Prostate cancer
  • A study published by the US National Library of Medicine illustrates a decrease in prostatic cancer cells by acting through cannabinoid receptors.
  • A study published in the US National Library of Medicine outlined multiple studies proving the effectiveness of cannabis on prostate cancer.


 • Another study published by the US National Library of Medicine determined that clinical testing of CBD against prostate carcinoma is a must.

Blood cancer
  • A study published in the journal Molecular Pharmacology recently showed that cannabinoids induce growth inhibition and apoptosis in mantle cell lymphoma.
  • A study published in the International Journal of Cancer also determined and illustrated that cannabinoids exert antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects in various types of cancer and in mantle cell lymphoma.
  • A study published in the US National Library of Medicine and conducted by the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology by Virginia Commonwealth University determined that cannabinoids induce apoptosis in leukaemia cells.


Oral cancer
  • A study published by the US National Library of Medicine results shows cannabinoids are potent inhibitors of cellular respiration and are toxic to highly malignant oral tumours.


Liver cancer
  • A study published by the US National Library of Medicine determined that that THC reduces the viability of human hepatocellular liver carcinoma (HCC) cell lines and reduced their growth.


Pancreatic cancer
  • A study published in The American Journal of Cancer showed that cannabinoid administration reduced the growth of tumour cells and inhibited the spread of pancreatic tumour cells.


 
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I am so grateful to Eric Oliver for providing me with Cannabis oil here in Malta. my husband was diagnose with Prostate cancer 2 years ago, and ever since then he has done a lot of Chemo and Radiation that have not helped him, but only damaged his immune system and render it weak and helpless. I came across the Phoenix Tears and i have read about the Cannabis oil a lot and saw that I could provide me with Hemp Oil here is the State, i contacted him on:[email protected] for the procurement of this medication, to my surprise the medication was procured and delivered within 48 hours and my husband have been on treatment for the past 3 months. Am now here to testify that my husband is no more a cancer patient, He has experience a total transformation in my health sector with Rick Simpson Hemp oil service. for all cancer patient that live in the America and Canada region, get your Hemp oil from [email protected], Rosana Ekelund
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I am so grat Eric Oliver biex tipprovdi me ma 'żejt Cannabis hawn fl-Istati Uniti. raġel tiegħi kien djanjostikat bil-kanċer tal-prostata 2 snin ilu, u peress li qatt imbagħad huwa għamel ħafna ta 'kemo u Radjazzjoni li ma għenuh, iżda biss ħsara sistema immuni tiegħu u jagħmilha dgħajfa u bla sahha. I sab l-Dmugħ Phoenix ui taqra dwar iż-żejt Cannabis ħafna u raw li I tista 'tipprovdi me ma Qanneb Żejt hawnhekk huwa l-Istat, i kkuntattjat lilu fuq: [email protected] għall-akkwist ta' din il-medikazzjoni, biex tiegħi sorpriża l-medikazzjoni kien akkwistati u mogħtija fi żmien 48 siegħa u r-raġel tiegħi kienu fuq trattament għall-aħħar 3 xhur. Am issa hawn biex jixhdu li r-raġel tiegħi ma jkunx aktar pazjent tal-kanċer, għandu esperjenza trasformazzjoni totali fis-settur tas-saħħa tiegħi ma 'servizz żejt Rick Simpson qanneb. għall-pazjent tal-kanċer li jgħixu fl-Amerika u l-Kanada-reġjun, jiksbu Żejt tal-qanneb tiegħek mill [email protected], ROSANA Ekelund
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See also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0psJhQHk_GI Hemp oil, seeds, capsules and some other forms of this plant are legal and sold in health shops even in Malta
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Manuel Scicluna
One day, Malta MIGHT join everyone else in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the mindset of politicians will keep us firmly in the 16th century.
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Bobbie Cassbern
Instead of wasting our efforts in comments that would not lead anywhere, lets start a petition to the Government to approve this treatment locally at Mater Dei, under strict control of the Doctors. I don't see why it should be a problem if it's going to save lives and cost much less than the usual hit and miss treatment of chemo and radiation, unless of course there are ulterior motives?
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Good piece Raphael Vassallo but you should have asked permission to use my photograph(of the oil)in your article. I would happily provide high quality concentrated cannabis oil to the Mater Dei Hospital if requested to do so Jeff Ditchfield. Spain
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joseph camilleri
I fail to see how he can get the treatment if cannabis is illegal in Malta in every form. I suppose that the next best thing is chemotherapy for him....unless he wants to refuse treatment. I would raise the case but I wouldn't refuse treatment or stay waiting for the laws to change.....it might take a bit too long...
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This is no mystery to me. Even in a system where medical service is free like in Malta there are still huge commissions and fees to be made from the poison, cut and burn trio. If you want to understand cancer, what it is, what feeds it, how it grows, how it masks itself and defends itself from the immune system and the ways to attack it, break down its defense mechanism and stop its growth and starve it to death using a vast arsenal of cures that cost a fraction of what government spend then read one of the best books I ever encountered on the subject - Cancer Step Outside the Box by Ty Bollinger. Your eyes will truely open.
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This is no mystery to me. Even in a system where medical service is free like in Malta there are still huge commissions and fees to be made from the poison, cut and burn trio. If you want to understand cancer, what it is, what feeds it, how it grows, how it masks itself and defends itself from the immune system and the ways to attack it, break down its defense mechanism and stop its growth and starve it to death using a vast arsenal of cures that cost a fraction of what government spend then read one of the best books I ever encountered on the subject - Cancer Step Outside the Box by Ty Bollinger. Your eyes will truely open.
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Commercial interests to promote chemo at MaterDei and Boffa ??
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Here is a list of studies showing that marijuana cures cancer, categorized by the type of cancers being cured in each study. Note that the consistent theme between them is that marijuana shrinks tumors and selectively targets cancer cells.  Cures Brain Cancer  http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v95/n2/abs/66032...  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11479216  http://www.jneurosci.org/content/21/17/6475.abstra...  http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/308/3/838.ab...  http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/10/1/90.abstra...  Cures Mouth and Throat Cancer  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20516734  Cures Breast Cancer  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20859676  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18025276  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21915267  http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/early/2006/0...  http://www.molecular-cancer.com/content/9/1/196  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22776349  http://www.pnas.org/content/95/14/8375.full.pdf+ht...  Cures Lung Cancer  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22198381?dopt=Abstract  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21097714?dopt=Abstract  http://www.nature.com/onc/journal/v27/n3/abs/12106...  Cures Uterine, Testicular, and Pancreatic Cancers  http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabi...  http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/66/13/67...  Cures Prostate Cancer  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12746841?dopt=Abstract  http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v101/n6/abs/6605...  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339795/?tool=pubmed  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22594963  Cures Colorectal Cancer  http://gut.bmj.com/content/54/12/1741.abstract http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22231745  Cures Ovarian Cancer  http://www.aacrmeetingabstracts.org/cgi/content/abstract/2006/1/1084?maxtoshow&hits=80&RESULTFORMAT&fulltext=cannabinoid&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=560&resourcetype=HWCIT
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It is interesting to read the comments from the uninformed..As the leading cannabis program in the United States we are working with the top researchers and scientists from around the globe on the curative properties of cannabis infusion concerning cancer and serious pain management issues. In response to "Joo" who state " cannabis does not decrease tumour mass".. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/healthprofessional/page4 I would simply say use your search engine and find the truth, and please stop using old data that was simply a lie.. No one should suffer needlessly..here is our program for Veterans who are suffering from war-related injuries and stressors. www.veteransforcompassionatecare.org NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO SUFFER WHEN CANNABIS THERAPY IS AVAILABLE...
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeC8y19UBt4
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Change the law and don't let people suffer because of the big pharma companies curtel opposing to this cure.
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What a completely misleading article obviously written by someone with little background in medicine. Cannabis is not curative and does not decrease tumour mass in the body. It is purely for symptom control. You therefore cannot compare chemotherapy (whose aim is to reduce tumour mass by killing tumour cells or stopping them from dividing) with cannabis, a drug whose aim is to control pain/other symptoms. Also, the journal in question has a very low impact factor which in the medical world means it is not a widely read/respected journal. So one must ask themself why this research is not published in one of the major medical journals. The most likely reason is that the quality of the research is not very high. Since you have not provided the exact reference, I cannot read the full research paper and comment specifically. This is sensational journalism without much scientific basis. I am not arguing for or against the use of cannabis products in cancer therapy, but if you are going to write a report then make an effort to report scientific facts accurately.
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What a completely misleading article obviously written by someone with little background in medicine. Cannabis is not curative and does not decrease tumour mass in the body. It is purely for symptom control. You therefore cannot compare chemotherapy (whose aim is to reduce tumour mass by killing tumour cells or stopping them from dividing) with cannabis, a drug whose aim is to control pain/other symptoms. Also, the journal in question has a very low impact factor which in the medical world means it is not a widely read/respected journal. So one must ask themself why this research is not published in one of the major medical journals. The most likely reason is that the quality of the research is not very high. Since you have not provided the exact reference, I cannot read the full research paper and comment specifically. This is sensational journalism without much scientific basis. I am not arguing for or against the use of cannabis products in cancer therapy, but if you are going to write a report then make an effort to report scientific facts accurately.
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anton sciberras
Not only that but if he tries in any way to acquire this potentially life-saving medicine from abroad he'll probably be charged as a trafficker for the importation of drugs and spend the next decade or more in jail.
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This news item is indeed worrying. If we have to change the Maltese 1971 law for the sake of our suffering patients, so let's do it. A serious commission to study this matter must be set up with a time limit of 3 months before legislation is contemplated. I hope that the resistance to this does not come from pharma companies as capitalism should be inferior to humanism. Above all, decriminalising cannabis will impoverish the traffickers & thus reduce crime.
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Another human right taking away ! That's sickening , the fact that this man knows what can heal him. either the corruption and or lack of compassion are getting ridiculous. If I were you I would keep on them! If you can't get it , file a law suit ! And just a small suggestion , look into Rick Simpson .... Best of luck
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joanne zarb
if this is the truth then i have no other words for the deciding factors as evil and wicked . devil take forms in various shapes indeed!!!!
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John Pisani
Why should it be that ANY substance should be banned for a doctor to use in treating a patient?? The absurdity of such boggles the mind. Studies repeatedly disprove the myths against cannabis use recreationally - in fact, it is safer than alcohol or tobacco. Other studies however have gone beyond that and have begun to show remarkable anti-cancer properties than need to be further explored. Yet, regardless of which side one takes on recreational drug use, everyone should agree that doctors must not have their hands tied by such laws, but should be free to use any substance in existence within medically proven therapy for their patients. Not allowing doctors to use any medical therapy is a violation of human rights of the patient.
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Paul Borg
http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/08/23/20-medical-studies-that-prove-cannabis-can-cure-cancer/ cannabis cure cancer indeed
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Paul Borg
http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/08/23/20-medical-studies-that-prove-cannabis-can-cure-cancer/ cannabis cure cancer indeed
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Paul Borg
http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/08/23/20-medical-studies-that-prove-cannabis-can-cure-cancer/ cannabis cure cancer indeed
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Paul Borg
there's huge information out there about medical marijuana benefits, why authorities are still refusing these benefits from cannabis? these benefits where known since 1974 while big pharma companies opposing to this cure because of loosing billions of money with few money anybody can cure him/her self with marijuana. authorities must open their mind about this benefits of marijuana, since then it was all misleading about medical marijuana benefits. google yourself, do your research about the cure of many type of cancers and other illness cured by marijuana on the internet let's break this tabooo
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Paul Borg
there's huge information out there about medical marijuana benefits, why authorities are still refusing these benefits from cannabis? these benefits where known since 1974 while big pharma companies opposing to this cure because of loosing billions of money with few money anybody can cure him/her self with marijuana. authorities must open their mind about this benefits of marijuana, since then it was all misleading about medical marijuana benefits. google yourself, do your research about the cure of many type of cancers and other illness cured by marijuana on the internet let's break this tabooo
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Paul Borg
there's huge information out there about medical marijuana benefits, why authorities are still refusing these benefits from cannabis? these benefits where known since 1974 while big pharma companies opposing to this cure because of loosing billions of money with few money anybody can cure him/her self with marijuana. authorities must open their mind about this benefits of marijuana, since then it was all misleading about medical marijuana benefits. google yourself, do your research about the cure of many type of cancers and other illness cured by marijuana on the internet let's break this tabooo