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CBD Oil and Cancer: What the Research Says

Since it became legal in the UK, oils, capsules and other products containing cannabidiol (CBD) have grown immensely in popularity. 

Today, CBD is marketed as a natural product that can assist in the treatment of numerous health conditions, from acne to anxiety. While research into the link between these conditions and CBD is still ongoing, many studies have produced promising results.

Then there’s cancer. Over the last few years, certain websites and publications have promoted CBD oil and other CBD products as a type of complementary therapy for the treatment of some cancers. 

Sometimes, the information provided online about CBD oil and cancer is truthful, accurate and helpful, explaining CBD’s potential in a matter-of-fact way without ever positioning it as a “cure” for cancer or exaggerating its potential.

However, some other information about CBD oil and cancer is inaccurate and unhelpful, and in some cases, even harmful. Below, we’ve looked at the scientific research to see what CBD oil can and can’t do for cancer patients, as well as how it can potentially be used safely. 

Does CBD Oil Cure Cancer?

If you search using Google for phrases like “CBD and cancer”, you might find pages describing CBD oil and other CBD products as potential cures or treatments for cancer. 

At the moment, there is absolutely no credible scientific evidence to show that CBD oil can definitely cure cancer or reduce tumor growth in humans. Any website you find that states that CBD oil can absolutely, definitely cure cancer should be treated with skepticism. 

CBD is one of several compounds currently being researched as a treatment for reducing the growth of certain cancerous tumors. For example, a 2014 in vivo study found that CBD could potentially inhibit the proliferation of certain colon cancer cells. 

A more recent scientific review from 2019 also found that certain cannabinoids could be linked to slower tumor growth and tumor cell death in pancreatic cancer. The review’s authors noted that cannabinoids may be an “effective adjunct” for pancreatic cancer treatment.

There are also other studies into CBD’s effects on certain types of cancer cells. In general, the studies of CBD and cancer that are currently published show promising, interesting results and certainly hint at the potential for progress in the future. 

However, there simply isn’t any authoritative, definite evidence to support the claim that CBD oil or other CBD products can cure cancer right now. As such, you shouldn’t think of CBD oil as an “unknown” or “natural” treatment for any form of cancer. 

You also shouldn’t think of CBD oil as an alternative to proven, conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery. 

If you have been diagnosed with any form of cancer, follow your doctor’s treatment instructions closely and accurately. As Cancer Research UK states online, survival rates for many forms of cancer are increasingly rapidly in the UK for people who use proven, effective treatments. 

Can CBD Oil Help in Cancer Treatment? 

Based on current research, CBD oil does not cure cancer or reduce tumor growth. However, it could be helpful in managing symptoms of certain cancers, as well as some of the side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. 

For example, scientific research from 2016 shows that CBD could and other cannabinoids could potentially be helpful in managing nausea and a weakened appetite — two common side effects of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. 

There’s also some scientific evidence to show that CBD can be helpful in managing anxiety — a common issue for people undergoing cancer treatment.

In the UK, some medications containing CBD have undergone testing as treatments for certain symptoms of cancer. For example, Sativex, a medication that contains CBD and THC, is one of several substances that have been reviewed for their pain management effects.

Just like many of CBD’s other effects, most research into CBD’s potential as a complementary treatment for pain, anxiety and other cancer symptoms is in its early stages. As such, it simply isn’t possible to draw any conclusions or make any authoritative statements yet.

If you’re undergoing cancer treatment and want to use CBD, it’s essential that you discuss this with your doctor first. Depending on the type of treatment you’re undergoing, CBD may or may not be safe for you to use. 

Before you take any action by yourself, talk to your doctor and carefully follow their treatment advice. 

Can CBD Oil Prevent Cancer?

In addition to studies looking at CBD’s potential effects as a complementary treatment for some forms of cancer, research is currently underway looking into the potential for cannabinoids such as CBD to inhibit the development of certain cancers. 

Right now, none of this research has resulted in any significant discoveries. In a recent scientific review, researchers concluded that “further profound studies” are required before the concept of using cannabinoids in any type of cancer treatment can be verified. 

“Rick Simpson Oil” and Cancer

Rick Simpson oil, or RSO, is a type of homemade cannabis oil that’s often promoted online as a natural alternative to common cancer treatments.

RSO is made from cannabis rather than hemp, meaning it contains a significant amount of THC, the cannabinoid in cannabis that causes you to feel high. Its creator claims that when applied to the skin, the oil can cure skin cancer in as little as four days. 

Like many other cannabis products positioned as natural treatments for cancer, there is no real evidence that Rick Simpson oil is effective. RSO and similar natural oils should not be used as replacements for proven, science-backed cancer treatments administered by a doctor. 


Currently, there is no credible scientific research to show that CBD can cure or treat any form of cancer. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, follow your doctor’s advice and do not use CBD in place of a proven, recommended treatment such as surgery or chemotherapy. 

With this said, CBD may potentially be helpful in managing certain aspects of cancer treatment, such as loss of appetite and chronic pain. Many people also find that CBD can promote deeper, better sleep, which could help you to stay energetic and focused during treatment. 

However, as CBD could interfere with other cancer treatments, you’ll need to talk to your doctor before you start using CBD to make sure it’s safe, appropriate and suitable option for you.

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