Can CBD Oil REALLY Shrink Cancerous Tumors?

A recent news publication out of the United Kingdom has shown radiology images of a cancerous tumor that shrank after an 81-year old patient began administering twice-daily drops of CBD oil.

The report (see the link below at the end of this article) is truly unprecedented, though experts have warned that this may simply be an isolated incident. Also, there is no clinical evidence to date that the CBD oil was the sole factor responsible for shrinking the tumor.

That said, there has been no shortage of prior publications suggesting that CBD may indeed have anti-tumoral properties, and could perhaps lead to increased programmed cell death (apoptosis) and decreased tumor size.

In this article – in addition to reviewing some of the scientific publications on CBD for cancerous tumors – we discuss the individual case of the 81-year old lung cancer patient who miraculously saw his adenocarcinoma growth shrink from 2.7 x 2.8 cm to just 1.5 x 0.6 cm in the space of roughly four months.

UK Lung Cancer Patient Sees Tumor Shrink After CBD Oil Treatment

After being diagnosed with lung cancer in October 2016, an unnamed elderly patient in Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) opted out of chemotherapy and radiation on the grounds that he did not want to deal with the many adverse side effects of the treatments in the final years of his life.

Rather, the man opted for a more natural approach in his efforts to improve the overall quality of his life. After a July 2017 X-ray showed an adenocarcinoma tumor measuring roughly 2.7 x 2.8 cm, the patient began taking CBD oil after hearing of its natural therapeutic benefits.

His initial CBD dosage (in September 2017) consisted of just two drops twice a day, but later increased to nine drops twice a day by the end of September. Miraculously, CT images in November 2017 showed that the man’s tumor size had been “significantly reduced,” and measured just 1.3 x 0.6 cm.

To be clear, there is no direct evidence that the CBD oil was the sole contributing factor to the decrease in tumor size. However, when doctors asked what (if any) lifestyle changes the man had made between July and November, he replied there weren’t any — except for the CBD oil.

Interestingly enough, the man seemingly stopped the CBD treatment just a week after the November CT scan, claiming that he “didn’t like the taste” and that it made him feel sick. It is unclear whether or not he re-started the CBD treatment, or whether future images showed a continued decrease in tumor size.

Additional Studies Suggest the Potential for CBD to Slow (and Possibly Reverse) Cancerous Tumor Growth

To be clear, the case of the elderly patient in Stoke-on-Trent was far from the only instance where CBD was noted to possibly reduce the growth of cancerous tumors. In fact, in its online database of chemical compounds (PubChem), the U.S. National Institute of Health cites several physiological pathways of CBD that help to “inhibit cancer cell invasiveness and metastasis,” as well as help “increase the uptake of various cytotoxic agents in cancer cells.”

Furthermore, in its compound summary on CBD, the U.S. National Library of Medicine claims that the natural cannabis-based compound exerts “anti-proliferative, anti-angiogenic and pro-apoptotic activities through various mechanisms,” and also activates autophagy that promotes the programmed cell death (apoptosis) of cancerous growths.


Anti-proliferativeThis refers to the ability of CBD to “inhibit cancer cell invasiveness and metastasis” – in other words, to potentially slow, stop, or reverse the proliferation of a cancerous growth.
Anti-angiogenicAngiogenesis refers to the formation of new blood vessels – particularly vessels that support the growth of cancerous tumors. The NIH report suggests that CBD reduces tumor-supporting angiogenesis.
Pro-apoptoticApoptosis refers to the “programmed cell death” (cellular suicide) of cancer cells. CBD appears to induce apoptosis by generating reactive oxygen species.

Interestingly enough, the NIH PubChem report on CBD also notes the ability of the compound to “enhance the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS)” – components which have been known to promote apoptosis in cancerous growths.

Other scientists have noticed this same characteristic, with researchers in the aforementioned report claiming that “CBD produces oxygenated chemicals in the body which may cause cancerous cells to kill themselves.”

Of course, additional pathways have been detected that may also help explain CBD’s seeming ability to slow and/or reverse the growth of tumors – even if experts are quick to point out that the case of the 81-year old patient may be a rare and isolated incident.

Ian Hamilton, a scientist based out of the University of York, has said: “This single case study adds to several that offer some promise in the use of CBD products in the treatment of cancer … I think there is real potential with CBD, but there is also a lot of false hope being given. This kind of case study is important but is unlikely to change medical practice. [CBD for cancer tumors] will need larger randomised control trials, which would help distinguish how much is down to the placebo effect.”

That’s CBD for Tumor Size Reduction… What About ‘Regular” Marijuana?

In case you’re wondering what exactly CBD is, it is one of hundreds of naturally-occurring compounds in the cannabis plant. What makes it special? The fact that it doesn’t produce a high.

Indeed, you’ve likely heard about the popularity of CBD in the news, with thousands upon thousands of people citing its profound healing effects with no high and virtually no adverse side effects.

Even the World Health Organization has backed the use of CBD in its most recent report to global health authorities, citing the fact that it has “no psychoactive properties,” “no potential for abuse,” and “no potential to produce dependence.” The Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) has also outwardly supported CBD, claiming that it presents “no significant ill-effects.”

However, “regular” marijuana (i.e. the kind that gets you high) has also been suggested to have anti-cancer properties. In fact, a famous 2018 study in Cancer Medicine highlighted the “increasing number of preclinical studies indicating the anticancer properties [of cannabinoids],” and that in vitro experiments have shown cannabinoids to “…inhibit [the] proliferation of cancer cells, stimulate autophagy and apoptosis, and inhibit angiogenesis and metastasis.”

While we still have a (very) long way to go before we fully understand the effects of CBD on tumor size and cancerous cell growths, it would appear that there is immensely promising potential in terms of being able to use cannabis in the treatment of various forms of cancer.

Conclusion: Can CBD Oil Shrink Tumors?

Again, the clinical case(s) and scientific evidence presented in this article should not be misinterpreted; CBD (and cannabis in general) is still far from being a reliable cancer treatment, and researchers have a long way to go before they fully understand the potential anti-proliferative action on tumor growth.

That said, the potential for CBD to be used to shrink tumor size is immense, to say the least. We have already reviewed several instances which highlight possible physiological pathways of anti-proliferation, anti-angiogenesis, and pro-apoptosis, and it is herein where cannabis may very well possess the ability to reverse the growth of cancer cells.

All we can do now is continue our support of cannabis legalization, and continue our efforts to promote research on this fascinating plant compound.