Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., and is a broad term describing an abnormal growth of cells that has the ability to spread. The areas of the body most commonly affected are those that are exposed to the sun, but skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body.
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In mice, for example, cannabinoids have been shown to reduce the size of breast tumors and lower the frequency of metastasis. Many other studies have indicated that the endocannabinoid system is functional in the skin and may play a role in skin cancers, especially inflammatory skin cancers.
How do most people get skin cancer? Sun exposure—more specifically, exposure to UVB radiation. This type of radiation comes from not only the sun but also sunlamps and tanning booths. Avoiding exposure to UVB radiation and using sunscreen when you are outdoors may help prevent some skin cancers from forming.
A lot of people still have uncertainty about the health benefits of medical marijuana because they don’t understand it, Yohe says. While there are more than 100 chemicals in cannabis, the two most common are THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD. Both can be found in marijuana and hemp, although marijuana has more THC, which produces the high, and hemp has more CBD, which has other medicinal properties without the high.
Yohe found that melanoma, a form of skin cancer that can easily spread to other organs, was an area that had a lot of research gaps. York College had melanoma cells available in the lab, so Yohe just had to work to get access to CBD for her independent research project.
“I wanted to find the gaps in what still needed to be studied,” she says. “I’m really interested in this topic and thought I had an opportunity to dive into research while it’s still early in the process.”
“You can’t just go out and buy CBD, despite what you see on the shelves of health stores or even at the gas station,” she says. “There are often other additives in it, and you need a pure form to be able to conduct research. Sigma-Aldrich biotechnology provided lab quality CBD for Yohe’s research. Finally, she could get to work.
The FDA has approved one CBD-based drug. Epidiolex is a treatment for several severe forms of rare childhood epilepsy. The National Institutes of Health clinical trials database shows more than 160 trials involving CBD that are either active or recruiting.
Generally speaking, skin cancers are divided into two categories: melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Skin cancer tends to start in the outer layer of the skin where it is visible to the naked eye, making early diagnosis a little easier than other forms of cancer.
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Though CBD may not be a cure for skin cancer, it may help with pain and inflammation. Studies also show that CBD may help relieve side effects related to conventional treatment. In one study  , patients taking CBD experienced a reduction in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. In another, a THC:CBD extract helped relieve intractable cancer-related pain  .
How is Skin Cancer Usually Treated?
When it comes to cannabis for skin cancer, there are many types to consider. Medical cannabis (or medical marijuana) is typically inhaled, though you can find edible forms as well. cannabidiol comes in oil tinctures, topical products, edibles, and vape juice. The form you choose may depend on the symptoms you’re trying to address. CBD oil is always a good place to start because you can control the dosage and scale it as needed.
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Clinical trials and scientific studies regarding the use of CBD oil for skin cancer are limited. Regardless of any benefit in treating the skin cancer itself, cancer patients may benefit from the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits of cannabidiol oil.
Read on to learn more about hemp oil for skin cancer and to see our top picks.