The SIO Research Committee is pleased to offer this fifth installment in a new blog series known as "Myths of Cancer".  In this series we will address some of the most common myths and misperceptions that arise around cancer risk and treatment related to diet and natural health products, as well as other complementary therapies such as yoga, acupuncture and meditation.  If you have a question you'd like us to address or comments about the this post, please send your suggestions to:  info@integrativeonc.org.  

 

We hope you enjoy the series!
Linda Carlson and Eugene Ahn, Research Committee 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog series are the authors’ own, and not necessarily those of the Society of Integrative Oncology or the authors’ host institution(s)”

 

Does Cannabis Cure Cancer?

By Eugene Ahn, MD

Quick Answer Box

In cell cultures and animal models, cannabis-derived cannabinoids, particularly THC and cannabidiol, can have activity against some cancers (but paradoxically also accelerate the growth of others). But none of these studies provide evidence that cannabis can cure cancer (many drugs look great in cell cultures and animal models but fail in definitive clinical trials). There are two early phase clinical trials published, one of which suggests it is possible cannabinoids might help treat a very aggressive type of brain cancer with few side effects. But it is irresponsible and harmful to say cannabis cures all types of cancer. Research also shows alternative medicine use may delay conventional treatment, resulting in worse cancer-specific outcomes.  However, given its proven benefits helping treat cancer side effects such as loss of appetite, neuropathic pain, and nausea, it is reasonable to use as an integrative treatment for those indications, but not in lieu of conventional therapy, especially in curative intent situations.

 

I wish cannabis cured all cancers. I wish wishful thinking would make it true. As oncology health professionals, we are joyful when our patients are joyfully in remission, and we suffer when we see our patients suffer. If there is one thing we professionals have in common, it is that we welcome better cure probabilities and less side effects for our patients.

Over the past 18 years after having trained in both infectious diseases and oncology, I have taken care of many conditions that respond extremely well to cannabis or its psychoactive ingredient delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), such as AIDS-related cachexia, chronic pain, nausea and loss of appetite from cancer or chemotherapy. I have also published case reports of extraordinary outcomes when they highlighted potential activity of an underappreciated intervention (for example, a case of Xeloda and graviola tea associated with a 5-year remission in a patient with metastatic breast cancer). I have a lot of patients who have utilized cannabis or its isolates in the hope it would cure their metastatic disease and assured them I would publish their case if they were successful. But I have yet to personally see a patient whose metastatic cancer went into miraculous remission with cannabis or cannabis products alone, although for most their quality of life was enhanced.

The SIO Research Committee is pleased to offer this fourth installment in a new blog series known as "Myths of Cancer". In this series we will address some of the most common myths and misperceptions that arise around cancer risk and treatment related to diet and natural health products, as well as other complementary therapies such as yoga, acupuncture and meditation. If you have a question you'd like us to address or comments about this post, please send your suggestions to: info@integrativeonc.org.

We hope you enjoy the series!
Linda Carlson and Eugene Ahn, Research Co-Chairs.

5 Common Myths About Cancer and Cancer Treatment that Could Harm You

By: Eugene Ahn, MD

Quick Answer Box

Sometimes we can hold on to our belief systems too tightly. Below, we discuss some myths about cancer that evidence suggests may negatively impact a patient’s chances of surviving a cancer diagnosis. We have intentionally excluded controversies that will be addressed in future blog entries.


A new diagnosis of localized cancer can be an emotional rollercoaster of ups and downs, dread and optimism, fear and empowerment. Added to this distress is the seemingly impossible task of gathering sufficient information to make the best evidence-informed decision regarding an optimal individualized treatment plan. It is only natural (with the lack of any editorial oversight on most information posted on the Internet), that someone could accidentally pick up some erroneous beliefs about cancer and cancer treatment and likewise miss out on important new research insights that would improve cancer treatment outcomes. In this blog, we discuss myths that already have sufficient research to show they are not only incorrect, but also may harm a patient’s chances for thriving after a cancer diagnosis. We interviewed surgical oncologists, medical oncologists and other cancer care providers to identify the most common harmful myths that they encounter in their practice. These myths are listed in order of least to most harmful.

The SIO Research Committee is pleased to offer this third installment in a new blog series known as "Myths of Cancer". In this series we will address some of the most common myths and misperceptions that arise around cancer risk and treatment related to diet and natural health products, as well as other complementary therapies such as yoga, acupuncture and meditation. If you have a question you'd like us to address or comments about this post, please send your suggestions to: info@integrativeonc.org.

We hope you enjoy the series!
Linda Carlson and Eugene Ahn, Research Co-Chairs.

The Role for Hypnosis in Cancer Care: Overcoming Misconceptions to Engage in Evidence-Based Care

 By:  Eugene Ahn, MD, Linda Carlson, PhD, and Lorenzo Cohen, PhD

Quick Answer Box

There is a solid evidence-base to support the use of hypnosis in reducing distress, anxiety, nausea, pain and other symptoms during invasive medical procedures and reducing medical costs. Yet misconceptions related to the practice of hypnosis have limited its integration into cancer care.


Earlier this year, the critically acclaimed film Get Out (99% on Rotten Tomatoes) amassed $175 million at the box office winning audiences over with its mix of dark humor, horror, and social commentary. One of the plot twists (SPOILER ALERT) involves a psychiatrist who uses hypnosis to “mind-control” her guests. By tapping her cup of tea, she can sedate her clients into submission. To those who practice hypnosis or have trained in it, this representation of hypnosis is inaccurate and frustrating, requiring suspension of disbelief because those who know hypnosis well are aware that we cannot make a client do something they do not want to do. Yet this is the misunderstanding and fear of loss of control that hypnosis carries today.