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The endocannabinoid system and cancer: therapeutic implication

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  • The endocannabinoid system and cancer: therapeutic implication

    Conclusion and limitations

    The available literature suggests that the endocannabinoid system may be targeted to suppress the evolution and progression of breast, prostate and bone cancer as well as the accompanying pain syndromes. Although this review focuses on these three types of cancer, activation of the endocannabinoid signalling system produces anti-cancer effects in other types of cancer including skin, brain (gliomas) and lung (Velasco et al., 2007; BÃ*róet al., 2009; Pacher and Mechoulam, 2011 for reviews). Interestingly, cannabis trials in population-based studies failed to show any evidence for increased risk of respiratory symptoms/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (Tan et al., 2009; Hancox et al., 2010) or lung cancer (Tashkin, 2005) associated with smoking cannabis. Moreover, synthetic cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system play a role in inhibiting cancer cell proliferation and angiogenesis, reducing tumour growth and metastases and inducing apoptosis in all three types of cancers reviewed here. These observations raise the possibility that a dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system may promote cancer, by fostering physiological conditions that allow cancer cells to proliferate, migrate and grow. These observations also raise the exciting possibility that enhancing cannabinoid tone through cannabinoid-based pharmacotherapies may attenuate these harmful processes to produce anti-cancer effects in humans.
    The endocannabinoid system is implicated in a variety of physiological and pathological conditions (inflammation, immunomodulation, analgesia, cancer and others). The main active ingredient of cannabis, Δ[9] -tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ[9] ...