In 2020, around 30,870 individuals worldwide were reported to have mesothelioma(1). Even if this disease is detected early, the five-year survival rate for individuals with such a condition is only 18%.  

Those people with mesothelioma may consider looking for alternative methods to help manage their symptoms.

Some studies explore the potential benefits of CBD (cannabidiol) in managing different diseases, including mesothelioma. Researchers are looking into whether or not CBD oil has antitumor properties that may help manage the various mesothelioma stages.

How can CBD help manage mesothelioma or its symptoms? Is there any research supporting CBD’s benefit on this type of cancer? How safe is it to take CBD if an individual has mesothelioma?

This article explores how CBD may help individuals with mesothelioma and how safe this compound is for those with such a condition. This article also explains what causes mesothelioma and what CBD is.

How CBD May Help Manage Mesothelioma

Some CBD users may claim that this compound helps manage mesothelioma or its symptoms. However, most of these first-hand experiences are unsubstantiated, and scientists need to conduct more research on the purported benefits of CBD.

The cannabis plant comprises numerous phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids) that have garnered attention for their potential anticancer properties(2). However, scientists know very little about the effects of these natural compounds on mesothelioma.

CBD is one of the phytocannabinoids purported to have the following health benefits(3):

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Analgesic (pain-relieving)
  • Anxiolytic (antianxiety)
  • Anticonvulsant (antiseizure)

Aside from these presumed benefits, cannabinoids such as CBD may have potential anticancer properties, especially on mesothelioma cells(4). Still, scientists must conduct extensive research to determine the compound’s effectiveness against mesothelioma.

Several cannabinoids, including CBD and the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA), may have anti-angiogenic properties(5) or the ability to prevent tumors from growing their own blood vessels. 

These properties suggest that CBD and the ECS (endocannabinoid system) may be involved in modulating tumor angiogenesis by helping decrease the expression of pro-angiogenic factors that can lead to tumor growth.

The ECS is a regulatory system that controls many critical body functions, such as pain control, anti-inflammatory response, temperature control, and immune response(6).

Tumors are abnormal cells that have accumulated due to mutations associated with cancer(7). Although what causes the initial genetic mutations leading to mesothelioma are not immediately evident, managing tumor growth may help keep the symptoms of this disease under control.

Research on CBD for Mesothelioma

A 2022 animal study using a rat model showed that two phytocannabinoids, CBD and CBG (cannabigerol), may potentially inhibit mesothelioma cell growth(8).

CBG is among the major cannabinoids in most cannabis varieties and may have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties(9). Like CBD, CBG does not have the psychoactive effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

THC is a psychoactive compound that may produce a “high” feeling associated with smoking marijuana(10). This substance may also cause central nervous system depression.

The same animal study mentioned that CBD and CBG did not increase the mesothelioma rat model’s survival rate(11). This result is likely due to the limitations of the drug delivery method.

Although the researchers conducted the study on animals, the results may help other scientists conduct further studies on CBD’s effects on humans with mesothelioma.

Is CBD Safe to Take for Mesothelioma?

Studies have not thoroughly determined the safety and efficacy of CBD for mesothelioma.

The USFDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) mentioned that CBD may cause liver injury or affect how other drugs work in the body, possibly leading to side effects(12).

A WHO (World Health Organization) report shows that CBD does not exhibit any effects indicative of any dependence or abuse potential among humans(13).

However, CBD may cause the following side effects(14):

  • Dry mouth
  • Reduced appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness

What Is CBD?

CBD is a phytocannabinoid that can function as a neurotransmitter and is known to have potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects(15).

CBD oil manufacturers typically utilize CO2 (carbon dioxide) extraction to safely obtain CBD from the cannabis plant(16). However, suppliers can also use methods like ethanol and solvent extraction, which are relatively safe.

After obtaining CBD from the cannabis plant, manufacturers categorize the CBD extract as broad-spectrum, full-spectrum, or isolate.

Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all cannabis plant extracts, including CBD, flavonoids, terpenes, and other cannabinoids, while keeping the THC concentration below 0.3%(17).

Flavonoids are natural substances that may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic (anticancer) benefits and help modulate cellular enzyme functions(18).

Meanwhile, terpenes are the primary ingredients of essential oils and provide a distinct aroma in cannabis plants(19).

Broad-spectrum CBD oil products are similar to their full-spectrum counterparts, except broad-spectrum CBD oil does not contain THC.

Finally, isolates contain pure CBD only and do not include any other substances.

When the different phytocannabinoids in full- or broad-spectrum CBD products act synergistically, these compounds may produce clinical benefits in what is known as the entourage effect(20).

What Is Mesothelioma and What Causes It?

Mesothelioma is a cancer type that often occurs in the thin tissue surrounding most internal organs.

This disease is a rare but aggressive type of cancer that forms in the tissue lining the lungs (pleura) or abdomen (peritoneum)(21).

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include(22):

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Painful coughing
  • Lumps under the skin on the chest
  • Unexplained weight loss

Meanwhile, peritoneal mesothelioma has the following symptoms(23):

  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea

Other forms of mesothelioma are:

  • Pericardial mesothelioma: Affects the tissues around the heart.
  • Tunica vaginalis mesothelioma: Affects the testicle tissues.

One of the primary causes of this disease is asbestos exposure(24).

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral composed of strong and heat-resistant fibers(25). These properties make this product useful in various applications like insulation, flooring, shingles, and brakes.

When workers remove asbestos insulation or when miners dig for the mineral, asbestos can break up and produce dust. If individuals inhale or swallow this dust, the asbestos fibers can settle in the lungs or stomach and irritate these organs, leading to mesothelioma.

Scientists have not fully understood the mechanism of how asbestos causes mesothelioma. This situation may be partly because the disease can take up to 20 to 60 years to develop after the individual gets exposed to asbestos(26).

Other risk factors that increase the chances of mesothelioma include:

  • History of asbestos exposure: An individual exposed to asbestos fibers at home or work has a higher risk of getting mesothelioma.
  • Family history of mesothelioma: The individual may have a higher risk if their parent, sibling, or child has the disease.
  • Living with an individual working with asbestos: Individuals exposed to asbestos can carry the fibers home on their clothing or skin. Long-term exposure to these stray fibers can place others at home at high risk for mesothelioma.
  • Chest radiation therapy: Patients who underwent cancer radiation therapy in the chest can develop an increased risk for mesothelioma.

One of the ways to prevent mesothelioma is to follow safety workplace precautions, such as wearing protective equipment, especially when the individual’s job involves the risk of asbestos exposure(27).

An individual exposed to asbestos must also change their work clothes and take a shower immediately before eating lunch or going home. Doing so helps lower the chance of carrying stray asbestos fibers.

Individuals who want to learn about protecting themselves from asbestos exposure and lowering the risk of mesothelioma should talk to their doctor for advice. Those who think they have been exposed to asbestos should also consult a physician or oncologist (a cancer doctor) for a diagnosis.

  1. Mesothelioma: Statistics
  2. An Examination of the Anti-Cancer Properties of Plant Cannabinoids in Preclinical Models of Mesothelioma
  3. Cannabidiol Primer for Healthcare Professionals
  4. An Examination of the Anti-Cancer Properties of Plant Cannabinoids in Preclinical Models of Mesothelioma
  5. Insights Into the Effects of the Endocannabinoid System in Cancer: A Review
  6. The Endocannabinoid System: Essential and Mysterious
  7. Mesothelioma: Symptoms & Causes
  8. An Examination of the Anti-Cancer Properties of Plant Cannabinoids in Preclinical Models of Mesothelioma
  9. Cannabigerol
  10. Tetrahydrocannabinol
  11. An Examination of the Anti-Cancer Properties of Plant Cannabinoids in Preclinical Models of Mesothelioma
  12. What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD
  13. CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Critical Review Report
  14. What Are the Benefits of CBD — and Is It Safe to Use?
  15. Cannabidiol Primer for Healthcare Professionals
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Flavonoids: An Overview
  19. The Cannabis Terpenes
  20. Cannabidiol Primer for Healthcare Professionals
  21. Mesothelioma
  22. Mesothelioma: Symptoms & Causes
  23. Ibid.
  24. Mesothelioma
  25. Mesothelioma: Symptoms & Causes
  26. Ibid.
  27. Ibid.
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