Did you know that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70? Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer; in fact, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other types of cancer combined. And those numbers are growing—skin cancer diagnoses rose an astounding 77% between 1994 and 2014.
These shocking statistics make it clear that skin cancer prevention and treatment are extremely important topics in the medical community. Along with established options, a growing interest in CBD treatment for skin cancer has developed in recent years. Below, we’ll provide an overview of skin cancer and its most common treatments, as well as information on why and how to use CBD oil for skin cancer.
An Overview of Skin Cancer
Before we dive into the details of CBD as a potential treatment, let’s start with an overview of skin cancer. Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells, most often triggered by sun exposure (though it can also occur on areas of the skin not regularly exposed to sunlight). When mutations occur in the DNA of your skin cells, the cells begin to grow out of control, forming a cancerous mass that can eventually spread to other parts of the body.
There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. (Learn more about the definitions and symptoms of each one here.) Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, though it’s also the least common. In most cases, basal and squamous cell skin cancers are not life threatening with prompt and proper treatment.
Skin cancer is most commonly caused by exposure to UV radiation from sunlight or tanning beds. Additional risk factors include fair skin, a history of sunburn or excessive sun exposure, living in a sunny or high-altitude climate, moles, a family history of skin cancer, and a weakened immune system. Anyone can develop skin cancer, and it may appear anywhere on your body. Limiting sun exposure and using proper sun protection are key to skin cancer prevention; regular visits to a dermatologist can also help to catch skin cancer in its early stages, allowing for more successful treatment.
How is Skin Cancer Usually Treated?
If your doctor identifies skin cancer or an area displaying precancerous symptoms, the first step in treatment is usually removing the cancerous growth. Skin cancer may be removed by freezing or excising. In the case of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, these procedures may be the extent of treatment required.
For melanoma, or if there is concern that cancer has spread to other parts of the body, a doctor may recommend radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Radiation can be effective when a cancerous area of the skin cannot be fully removed with surgery. Chemotherapy can be administered topically if the cancer is isolated to one area of the skin; systemic treatment may be required if it has spread. Other treatment options include photodynamic therapy and biological therapy.
While the treatments outlined above are extremely effective for many instances of skin cancer, some cases are resistant to treatment. In addition, chemotherapy and radiation can have profound and life-altering side effects for patients. For these reasons, alternative treatments like CBD have been a source of growing interest for skin cancer researchers in recent years.
Can I Use CBD Oil for Skin Cancer?
So, where does the connection between CBD and skin cancer begin? A number of studies have found a link between CBD, the body’s endocannabinoid system, and gene regulation that prevents cancer growth. Here’s an overview of the pertinent research.
CBD contains substances known as cannabinoids, natural compounds that interact with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. This network of receptors is scattered across the body, where it regulates a wide array of functions that include mood, pain and inflammation, and cell growth. When the abnormal cells that cause skin cancer grow, the endocannabinoid system isn’t functioning properly.
Studies have shown that CBD can help endocannabinoid receptors return to normal function and halt the progress of skin cells that are turning cancerous. Early evidence indicates that cannabinoids work to “regulate cell-survival and cell-death pathways differently in tumor and non-tumor cells,” suggesting that compounds like CBD can be used to target cancerous growths without damaging healthy cells. A 2013 study reported that 90% of skin cancers could be mitigated using synthetic cannabinoids. In this preliminary research, CBD has shown promising results in preventing the growth and metastasization of cancer cells, providing a potential alternative to traditional treatments like chemotherapy without harmful side effects.
It’s important to note that many of these studies have been conducted on animals, and research on the link between CBD and skin cancer remains in the very early stages of development. One 2017 report noted that “preliminary studies have suggested cannabis and its derivatives might have use in acne, dermatitis, pruritus, wound healing, and skin cancer. Further well-controlled studies are required to explore these potential uses.”
CBD Treatment for Skin Cancer
Because research is not yet definitive, CBD should not be used as an alternative to more established cancer treatments. However, thanks to its minimal side effects and limited interactions with other drugs, it could be a beneficial supplement to traditional treatment options.
If you have interest in incorporating CBD into a skin cancer treatment plan, it’s best to start by consulting your doctor. He or she can make sure CBD is safe for you to use, review the latest research, and help you find a place for CBD in your cancer-fighting arsenal.
For most patients, a CBD salve for skin cancer may be the most direct treatment option. A CBD balm for skin cancer can be applied to the affected area, delivering the highest possible concentration of cannabinoid-rich CBD. In addition, you may consider an ingestible form of CBD, which can be taken in the form of oil, pills, or gummies. While there is no set dosage of CBD for adults, experts recommend 10 to 20mg per day, or a ratio of 1 to 6mg per 10 pounds of body weight, as a safe starting point. You can also consult the packaging of most commercially available CBD products for recommended dosages.
While current research has not yet established CBD as an alternative to traditional skin cancer treatment, early studies suggest that it may have valuable potential to arrest the growth of cancer in many patients. While further research is conducted, CBD can be used as a supplemental treatment for those diagnosed with skin cancer.
Due to FDA Regulations, we recommend that you do your own research on CBD products. We also suggest that you read the reviews on our website, where our customers record their real-world results of using our products.