Can CBD Stop Breast Cancer From Metastasizing?

Matt Weeks August 3, 2018 31 comments

CBD is the first outside agent that is capable of regulating Id-1 in human breast cancer cells.

The worst stage of breast cancer is the last one. Once the cancer has metastasized and spread throughout the body, the end is near — and very, very painful. However, a new therapy that utilizes cannabidiol (CBD) is yielding promising results. By turning back the clock on invasiveness of late-stage breast cancer. Cannabis for breast cancer could be the breakthrough many women — and men — have been waiting for.

In a 2007 study funded in part by National Institutes of Health, molecular biologists at the California Pacific Medical Center performed tests on human breast cancer cells that reveal how CBD could slow down and even halt the progression of the disease, even at its more virulent late-stage existence.

For breast cancer sufferers, this is huge news. Despite the overwhelming public support of breast cancer patients and sky-high donations to specifically focused charities like the Susan G. Komen Foundation, breast cancer remains an insidious killer. The American Cancer Society says that the average American woman has a twelve percent chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. This is more than any other cancer besides skin cancer.

Cancer cell growth

The Devastating Death Toll

According to, about 266,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in U.S. women this year alone. The figure is 2,500 cases for men. In the same time frame, the disease will kill nearly 41,000 American women.

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One reason it’s so deadly is that breast cancer is often incurable once it metastasizes and moves beyond the breast tissue into other parts of the body. That’s because the final stage of the cancer’s life is least medically understood, and therefore nearly untreatable. The new CBD findings, however, are giving scientists a new avenue of inquiry.

How CBD Came Into the Breast Cancer Treatment Conversation?

Years ago, medical researchers discovered that a specific protein called Id-1 was responsible for much of the progressive and invasive behavior of breast cancer in its later stages. Using experiments on mice, researchers discovered that by downregulating this protein, the cancer become far less aggressive. In other words, blocking Id-1 from functioning could prevent breast cancer from metastasizing.

But there was a problem — a big one. In the mouse study, scientists used a special kind of gene therapy called antisense to de-activate the Id-1 protein, but the same kind of therapy is not possible for humans. So researchers needed a different kind of agent that would produce the same results, but could be used on people.

Further complicating matters, any new agent would not only have to be able to inhibit the Id-1 protein, it would have to be non-toxic and with low side effects so that it could be used on cancer patients whose immune systems are already weakened.

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Luckily, cannabis stepped up.

CBD, one of the active ingredients in cannabis, is a low-toxicity, non-intoxicating molecule that affects the human endocannabinoid system. It doesn’t get patients high. Instead, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system in a number of ways, many of which are still being discovered.

CBD chemical formula beside a woman blurred holding up cannabis leaf

A Breakthrough in Cannabis for Breast Cancer

The California scientists knew from prior research that CBD inhibited breast cancer metastasis in mice, but the exact mechanism by which is happens is largely unknown. The scientists hypothesized that CBD may work like the antisense treatment and produce results by altering the expression of the Id-1 protein in the cancer cells—and they were right!

In a massive breakthrough, the researchers showed that CBD is the first outside agent that is capable of regulating Id-1 in human breast cancer cells. This paves the way for new and exciting therapies for even the sickest cancer patients.

If breast cancer can be prevented from metastasizing or halted early in its tracks, the number of lives saved could be massive. That’s not just good news for women or those with a family history of breast diagnoses—it’s good news for everyone.

Almost eighty five percent of breast cancer diagnoses occur in women without a family history of the disease. And while American women have a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer at some point during their lives, men are also at risk. Current data suggest that about one out of 1,000 men living in the U.S. will develop breast cancer.

Cannabis field through fish eye lens

And the benefits of a CBD-based cancer therapy are most likely not limited to breast cancer. The scientists who discovered the effects of CBD on Id-1 are optimistic that new and better drugs for patients with all kinds of cancer can be created based off of this initial finding.

Imagine—if modern medicine can prevent cancer from turning into its final and most lethal form, we could grant many more years of life to millions of people across the world. All of it thanks to one little plant.

Author avatar

Matt Weeks

A writer living and working in Athens, GA, Matt's work has appeared in various newspapers, books, magazines and online publications over the last 15 years. When he's not writing, he hosts bar trivia, plays in local bands, and makes a mean guacamole. He holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master's degree in organizational theory. His favorite movie is "Fletch."

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  1. jolene

    I was just diagnosed with lung cancer stage 3. I wonder if this CBD would help me. I don’t want chemo.

  2. Carol Crane

    I was diagnosed 3 years ago with DeNovo Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer, will CBD oil help me since I was initially diagnosed with Metastatic ? Had spread to my lungs, liver and bones. I am currently NEAD ( No Evidence of Active Disease.) I’m on the oral meds Ibrance and Letrozole.


  3. Lawrence Goodwin

    Scientific research focused on the seedless, female flowers of cannabis plants should have exploded 30 YEARS ago, after the decisive September 1988 recommendation made by Judge Francis Young for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). After months of intensive study, Young concluded that cannabis flowers are “…far safer than many foods we commonly consume” and “one of the safest therapeutically active substances known” to medicine. The compounds “cannabidiol (CBD),” “tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)” or any of the other “cannabinoids” very well may prove to be the “cure” for cancer that so many Americans have been looking for all this time.

    The main problem is that heartless DEA bureaucrats, and their arrogant protectors in the U.S. Congress, refuse to repeal the criminal Schedule I classification of “marihuana.” As of early 2019, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is the most ruthless obstructionist in that effort. McConnell alone is prolonging one of the biggest scandals in American history.

  4. S.R. Claytor

    My wife was just diagnosed with Metaplastic BC. Could she benefit from this?

  5. Anne

    How is the oil used. Applied topically or injected?

    • Natali Levi

      Hey , my sister have triple negative breast cancer.
      There are so many CBD oils out there, what should I get for her??


  6. Kim bly

    Anyone used and had success with neurofibromas who have neurofibromatosis?

  7. Shannon Bigler

    Was the study done with isolate CBD and what dose/quantity for humans would be compatible to what mice received? My mom is currently taking a therapeutic grade isolate CBD 1000mg 10 drops two times per day since April 2019 for some of her other health issues. She was diagnosed with breast cancer Jan 2016 I just wanted to see if she is taking enough of a comparable dose to what success you saw in mice during the study. Thank you in advance for responding. Such important research needs to be available to all diagnosed.

  8. JoHanna G

    I have cbd oil and multiple sclerosis. Any thought last or dosages on that? It’s very expensive but the ms drugs r deadly.

    • Jennifer Grant

      Hello JoHanna – unfortunately, we have not advanced to the point of dosage recommendations for ANY conditions. Those who don’t want to wait for human clinical trials to be done are doing trial and error. Start low and slowly increase until you see symptom relief.

  9. Bruce Cornwall

    Hi Matt,

    Could you send me the reference for the medical journal article from the California Pacific Medical Centre? APA would be great, or enough info for me to source it please? Btw Great stuff, thanks

  10. Reza Singh

    Don’t rely on CBD oil entirely! In order to treat cancer, one should use RSO (Rick Simpson oil) with a high THC content (min. 80% or higher). It can be ingested by month or via suppositories. RSO is not sold by Rick Simpson himself, and he recommends that you make it yourself from cannabis buds of the Indica strain (with a high THC content). He says that anyone who claims to sell RSO should be regarded with caution- and that at the very least, the product they are selling should be analysed by an independent laboratory.
    For more information, Rick Simpson’s official website is:

  11. et

    PLEASE be CAREFUL with suggestions and “prescribing” to folks desperate for help with cancer and other disease! I am both a cannabis advocate/user and also surviving breast cancer and there is no magic bullet especially where metastasis is concerned! Do your own research and advocacy and be careful of those offering or promising miracles!!! Those diagnosed are vulnerable! This article, while providing some info, is flimsy and uses some sketchy language. Metastatic breast cancer is not “curable”, only manageable. Good continued health to us all!

    • Jennifer Grant

      This is 100% based on a peer-reviewed study and that study is thoroughly described within the article (funded by NIH, completed on animal model, complications in applying results to humans, how they worked around that). There are also links to supporting AND related studies. There is zero flimsy or sketchy language. And I can’t find a single instance of the use of the word cure. This particular study is exciting for breast cancer patients. I share your concern and dismay at sites that give false hope in miracle cures’ but this is certainly not that.


    I am looking forward to the availability of this on the market

  13. William Cox

    Where can I get information about CBD or MM for nerve damage, nerve pain, numbness to hands/arms. These are r/t issues at C4,5,6 as well as lumbar.

  14. I would like to point out this is a 13 year old study. A single in petri-dish study and the jump to clinical application needs to be taken with caution. Especially in the face of no follow-up or repeat studies. Unfortunately there is “linear thought” applied here when trying to look for medical answers to complicated conditions. You must consider other issues associated with CBD use in the activation and up-regulation of other physiologic systems in the body, and how CBD affects liver metabolism of other types of medications which certainly, most cancer patients are taking. As a physician trained in metabolic issues, medical nutrition, with a genetics background, I must caution the jump to treatment mentality. Do not ever take a CBD product with first knowing the EXACT source of production and lab studies, seeking a medical provider who understands the pharmacokinetics of CBD and the medications you are on, have a specific purpose for the use of CBD, and finally, understand what to do if things go wrong. Be careful of who you are choosing to be an “expert” in cancer treatment: