By Carey Wedler
Though John McCain reportedly may undergo chemotherapy to treat his recently announced glioblastoma, the survival rate for this aggressive type of brain tumor is not particularly promising. As the American Brain Tumor Association explains:
“For adults with more aggressive glioblastoma, treated with concurrent temozolomide [a drug commonly used to treat glioblastoma] and radiation therapy, median survival is about 14.6 months and two-year survival is 30%. However, a 2009 study reported that almost 10% of patients with glioblastoma may live five years or longer.”
Though it’s unclear how aggressive the tumor is or what treatment regimen McCain will pursue, studies have indicated there is a possible treatment for glioblastomas [GMBs] beyond chemotherapy and pharmaceutical drugs: cannabis. Though the evidence is not conclusive, it is emerging and is probably worth a try for a senator with the financial means to administer the plant-based medication.
According to the government’s own cancer website, “One study showed that coadministration of THC and CBD over single-agent usage had greater antiproliferative activity in an in vitro study with multiple human glioblastoma multiforme cell lines,” meaning adding CBD (cannabidiol) to THC helped stop tumor growth.
A 2013 study found that “activation of the transient receptor potential vanilloid type 2 (TRPV2) has been found to inhibit human GBM cell proliferation and overcome BCNU [an anti-cancer drug] resistance of GBM cells,” and that the administration of CBD helped trigger this TRPV2 activation, making otherwise limited treatments like temozolomide and BCNU more effective and toxic to tumor cells.
“CBD by triggering TRPV2-dependent Ca(2+) influx increases drug uptake and synergizes with cytotoxic agents to induce apoptosis [cell death] of glioma cells, whereas no effects were observed in normal human astrocytes,” the researchers reported.
An FDA-approved clinical trial of a cannabis treatment produced by GW Pharmaceuticals also found the administration of THC and CBD helped improve the condition of patients already taking temozolomide for glioblastomas.
GW noted that “The study showed that patients with documented recurrent GBM treated with THC:CBD had an 83 percent one year survival rate compared with 53 percent for patients in the placebo cohort” and that “Median survival for the THC:CBD group was greater than 550 days compared with 369 days in the placebo group.”
Still another study found a particular administration of cannabis in the treatment of glioblastomas inhibited tumor growth. When researchers took human glioblastoma cells and transplanted them into mice, administering “cannabinoid-loaded microparticles,” they found “enhanced apoptosis and decreased cell proliferation and angiogenesis in these tumours.”
Again, these studies are preliminary, but considering chemotherapy and other traditional treatments do not guarantee survival for John McCain’s, it makes little sense to shun an emerging solution. In 2013, the senator expressed openness to relaxing laws against cannabis, noting at a town hall meeting that “maybe’ it should just be legalized. His daughter also supports legalization.
Should McCain choose the chemotherapy route, cannabis will also be able to help him better tolerate the negative side effects of the harsh treatment.
Of course, suggesting cannabis could help treat John McCain’s brain cancer doesn’t amount to condoning the fact that he’s a neoconservative war hawk who supports policies that have killed countless innocent civilians. However, rather than cheering his possible death, as some social media users are doing — showing no compassion for his family — it would likely be more productive and empathetic to use this opportunity to educate others about the healing properties of a plant prohibited by the same oppressive government McCain uses to impose his violent policies.