Hemp Oil for Cancer : Does It Really Help?

Cancer can be triggered by environmental or genetic factors. They cause abnormal cell growth followed by tumor formation.

Across more than 100 different types of cancers, there’s great variability in cause and symptoms.

This makes it extremely difficult to formulate target-specific drugs and treatments. In 2017 alone, cancer claimed 9.6 million lives. [1]

Although chemotherapy and radiotherapy are routinely used in cancer treatment, they produce severe side effects as a result of killing the body’s healthy cells too.

Scientific research finds hemp oil can weaken tumor aggressiveness as well as alleviate the unwanted side effects of conventional cancer therapies.

Before we dive into hemp oil’s anti-cancer activities, let’s take a brief look at the oil itself.

What is Hemp Oil?

Hemp oil also known as hemp seed oil is extracted from hemp seeds under very high pressures. It’s an extremely rich source of the fatty acids recommended for a healthy diet.[2]

The oil’s chemical profile offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. The small amount of cannabidiol (CBD) in hemp oil can provide anti-cancer benefits. [3]

Note: Hemp oil and CBD oil are not the same. Always check the ingredients of the product before buying.

Benefits of Hemp Oil for Cancer

Dietary hemp oil can weaken tumor growth and prevent cancers from spreading in the body. This may reduce cancer symptoms in patients and promote survival time.

Hemp oil can enhance the advantages of chemo and radiotherapy alongside, potentially alleviating their damaging side effects.

Incorporating hemp oil into the diet may strengthen the immune system and thus, reduce the risk of developing cancer.

1. May Help Fight Against Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women. In 2018 alone, over 2 million new cases were diagnosed. [4]

Mouse studies reveal CBD dietary supplements can inhibit the spread of cancerous cells from the primary site of infection to secondary sites. [5]

Several other studies have concluded CBD is a potent inhibitor of cancerous cell growth. The exact mechanism by which CBD exerts this effect is not fully understood.

However, scientists propose that CBD induces cell death by increasing calcium and reactive oxygen species concentrations in cells. [6]

Reactive oxygen species are known to cause DNA damage. [7] Additionally, they activate signaling pathways for self-automated death.

Chemo and radiotherapy cause extensive damage to the hair and immune system. One particular study investigated if 5 mg/kg CBD doses (Hemp Oil contains 10 mg/kg of CBD) stimulated similar side effects.

The chosen dose was sufficient to induce cell death in cancerous cells and inhibit them from migrating. Additionally, it did not weaken the hair or immune system.

This provides evidence for the superiority of hemp oil over conventional treatments in limiting side effects.

A 4-year clinical trial monitored the effect of CBD on breast cancer patients. [8] An astonishing 92% of the patients showed evidence for slowed tumour growth and impaired metastasis.

What does this Mean? The amount of CBD in hemp oil is adequate to prevent the spread of cancerous cells, induce cellular death and weaken tumor growth in breast cancer without affecting hair growth or the immune system. There are several mouse studies and clinical trials confirming this.

2. May Protect from Melanomas

Melanoma is the most severe form of skin cancer. The UV radiation from sunlight is the leading cause of melanomas. [9]

Hemp oil contains a decent amount of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant known to protect the skin from UV damage. [10]

Skin culture studies found hemp oil provided protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Although most sunrays are UVA, both have the capacity to induce skin cancer. [11]

Hemp oil imparted anti-inflammatory activity by increasing oxygenation and blood flow to the skin.

Furthermore, activating CBD receptors in mouse models led to inhibition of cancerous cell growth. [12] The cell life cycle was arrested, and they were unable to multiply as quickly.

What does this Mean? The anti-inflammatory actions of hemp oil can offer protection from skin-cancer causing UV radiation. The effect is further enhanced by CBD, which inhibits cell growth in melanomas.

3. May Reduce the Symptoms of Gliomas

Glioma is a term given to cancerous tumors originating in the brain. For a tumour to grow, it requires a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients through the blood system. This process is known as angiogenesis.

CBD has the capacity to block angiogenesis signals from tumors. [13] This results in very narrow blood vessels being constructed to tumors. [14],[15]

As a result, cells are deprived of oxygen, which eventually leads to death.

A pathbreaking glioma mouse study revealed 0.5 mg CBD doses were adequate to invoke apoptotic death of cancerous cells. [16]

This is a natural mechanism of the body in which cells reduce their energy production in order to kill themselves.

Mice treated with CBD showed slower tumor growth. At 24 days after the start of the study, untreated mice had a tumor volume two times larger than the CBD-treated mice.

Stem cells can provide gliomas resistance from conventional cancer therapies and allow tumors to reappear after being removed. [17],[18]

A cell culture study revealed CBD administration inhibited self-renewal of glioma stem cells and induced cell death instead. [19]

Further research needs to be done in animal models to confirm whether the CBD content of hemp oil is sufficient to disarm stem cells.

What does this Mean?  Hemp oil threatens the survival of cancerous cells as its anti-angiogenic activity cuts off oxygen supply to tumors. As a result, the tumor growth is slowed down significantly. Hemp oil may prevent gliomas from recurring after being removed.

4. May Help Fight Against Leukaemia

Leukaemia is a type of cancer directly affecting the tissues responsible for producing blood. Stem cell transplants can be used to treat this condition. [20]

There is a considerable risk of rejection as the donated stem cells can attack the patient’s own healthy cells.

The anti-inflammatory characteristics of CBD make it useful in suppressing immune system responses caused by rejection.

It can potentially aid in transforming the transplant into a successful attempt.

A clinical trial with 48 leukemia patients found CBD safe to be used alongside conventional treatment drugs. [21]

CBD reduced the likelihood of patients developing more severe forms of this cancer and lowered relapse rate.

CBD stimulated the death of cancerous cells in a leukaemia culture study by disrupting the energy making process in the cells. [22]

What does this Mean? CBD can be used as an anti-inflammatory agent during the recovery stage of surgically treated leukaemia. Fewer clinical trial patients transitioned to late-stages of leukaemia after ingesting CBD.

5. May Help Fight Against Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer globally. In 2018, 12.3% of all newly diagnosed cancers were lung cancer. [23]

Cancer is an extremely fast-evolving disease. Tumors first arise in one particular organ but, can quickly spread to other parts of the body if not carefully monitored.

The process of spreading is known as metastasis.

A 2012 study concluded CBD was able to reduce metastasis and invasiveness of human lung cancer cells implanted into mice. [24]

CBD concentrations as small as 0.01 micromolar were sufficient to cause these anti-cancer effects.

What does this Mean? The amount of CBD contained within hemp oil is likely to be sufficient for preventing the spread of lung cancer to further parts of the body.

6. May Reduce the Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Hemp oil contains the antioxidant chemical: tocopherol. This compound protects from oxidative damage of DNA in colon cancer. [25]

The amount of tocopherol in hemp oil is more than sufficient to generate anti-cancer activity. [26]

Other antioxidants in hemp oil have shown some evidence for inhibiting cell replication and metastasis. [27] Further research is needed to confirm this.

What does this Mean? Hemp oil is an antioxidant agent, which may improve damage to healthy cells and colon cancer symptoms.

7. May Reduce the Risk of Developing Cancer

Hemp Oil ranks first amongst plant-based oils for proportion and quantity of healthy fatty acids. [28]

The omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are present in a low 3:1 ratio, which is ideal for a healthy balanced diet.

Diets rich in plant-based foods are essential to maintain a strong immune system. [29]

Many studies highlight the importance of a low ratio for increasing survival time in cancer. For example, prostate cancer is much more prevalent in the USA in comparison to Asia.

A typical Western diet was found to have a 46:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio whilst, Asian diets have a 3:1 ratio. [30]

Hemp oil is a rich source of linoleic acid, gamma-linoleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid.

An experimental study on rabbits found all 3 fatty acids were able to decrease the growth rate of a malignant liver tumor and prolong survival time over un-treated rabbits. [31]

High doses of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) forced the tumor to actually shrink in size.

The benefits of omega-3 and omega-6 can be applied more generally across the spectrum of different cancer types.

What does this Mean? The fatty acid composition of hemp oil may prolong survival time in cancer patients by reducing the rate at which tumors naturally grow.

8. May Prevent Cancer from Spreading in the Body

Studies exploring the effects of GLA in cancer often highlight hemp oil as a superior source of the fatty acid.

Cancerous cells generally express lower GLA concentrations than healthy cells. [32] This is possible because GLA can induce cell death in tumors.

Evidence for this was found when GLA was added to human breast, lung and prostate cancer cells. [33]

Linoleic Acid (LA) is the most abundant fatty acid in hemp oil – 56% by volume. Scientific studies suggest this compound can induce cancer cell death and prevent tumors from spreading around the body. [34]

Whilst, most research proves GLA is a better anti-cancer agent than LA, the LA in hemp oil is broken down to GLA in the body. [35]

This makes hemp oil one of the most attractive herbal medicines for assisting in cancer therapy.

Omega-3 fatty acids have shown to disrupt the survival systems in cancerous cells.[36]

They can generate signals leading to the death of breast, colon and prostate cancerous cells. [37]

The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine recommends hemp oil supplements to pregnant women for their daily omega-3 intake. [38]

Omega-3 can be used to regulate inflammation, which can protect individuals from developing cancers. [39],[40]

What does this Mean? The fatty acids in hemp oil can collectively increase death of cancerous cells and may reduce the chance of developing secondary cancers.

9. May Enhance the Benefits of Chemotherapy

CBD, omega-3 and omega-6 in hemp oil can act synergistically with chemotherapy to further enhance the effects of conventional drugs, like: Taxol, which is used extensively in breast cancer. [41]

Hemp oil shows some indication of overcoming resistance to chemotherapy drugs in gliomas.

Hemp oil improved the uptake of the drugs into cancerous cells. [42] More importantly, hemp oil only increased the death of cancerous cells and showed no effect on healthy brain cells.

What does this Mean? Hemp oil is unlikely to interfere with drugs used during chemotherapy and instead, it may be able to improve the effects.

11. May Ease Side Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy

Chemotherapy produces severe side effects, including: dizziness and vomiting. [43] CBD doses of 5 to 10 mg/kg (as found in hemp oil) can help alleviate these side effects. [44],[45]

However, further research is needed to identify the best dosage as 20 to 40 mg/kg can worsen vomiting. [46]

The GLA fatty acids in hemp oil can reduce the intensity of radiation damage to skin cells.[47]

A major issue with radiotherapy is that it kills many healthy cells in the process of removing tumors.

A study provides evidence for GLA’s high selectivity in only killing breast cancer cells when they were grown alongside normal skin cells in a dish. [48]

What does this Mean? Hemp oil may safely increase the therapeutic gain from chemo and radiotherapy as well as reduce side effects, like: vomiting, dizziness and skin damage.

12. May Alleviate Side Effects of Chemotherapy Drug – CisPlatin

Cisplatin is widely used in chemotherapy of lung and ovarian cancers. [49]

However, cisplatin is not selective in only targeting cancerous cells as a third of patients taking this drug experience harmful effects on kidney function. [50]

When CBD was given alongside cis-platin to mice, inflammation of the kidneys was reduced and their function was less impaired. [51]

CBD dosages of 2.5 to 10 mg/kg were adequate to reduce the side effects of cis-platin, even 12 hours after it was consumed.

What does this Mean? Cis-platin is widely used in chemotherapy even though it can damage kidney function. Hemp oil may oppose the side effects on cis-platin through its CBD content.


Hemp oil is classified as a low allergen and is highly unlikely to cause any allergic reactions.[52]

Most research finds hemp oil safe to use with chemotherapy drugs. However, we recommended you consult a doctor before using hemp oil with cancer treatments.

Hemp oil may interfere with platelet activity and blood clot formation. This can escalate bleeding times in individuals suffering from illnesses related to insufficient blood clotting.[53]

We advise you to consult a doctor before using dietary hemp oil with your regular medicine.

High-fat diets can deteriorate digestive and cardiovascular health. [54] Consult a doctor for dosage before consuming hemp oil orally.


Scientific studies highlight the CBD in hemp oil is key to provide anti-cancer effects. Hemp oil on average contains 10 mg/kg of CBD. [55]

Experimental studies reveal 2.5, 5 and 10 mg/kg of CBD are sufficient to reduce cancerous growth.

Hemp plants grown at northern latitudes i.e. in Canada are likely to contain greater CBD content.

You may want to purchase hemp oil products originating from northern countries. [56]

CBD is non-toxic to humans even at doses up to 50 mg/kg and is unlikely to counteract drugs used in chemotherapy. [57],[58]


Hemp oil can exert anti-cancer effects in lung, leukemia, glioma, breast, colon and melanoma cancers.

CBD has been identified as the key component and although its content in hemp oil is low, studies reveal it’s sufficient to produce measurable effects.

Clinical trials in breast cancer and leukaemia patients show promising results for the effect of CBD against tumours.

The oil possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant chemicals.

It can reduce tumour growth, promote cell death, inhibit cancers from spreading in the body and cut-off blood supply to tumours.

Adopting hemp oil into the daily diet can promote well-being and potentially reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy damage healthy cells in the process of removing tumours, which produces harmful side effects.

Hemp oil may alleviate some side effects, like: vomiting, dizziness and hair fall.

There are many animal studies indicating hemp oil advantageous in reducing the severity of cancers but, more clinical trials are needed to confirm its safety and efficiency in humans.