Preventative Maintenance Series #4: Cancer
A pet’s cancer diagnosis may change the level of care that pet owners will give to their furry loved ones but what if owners made small changes now that may benefit the aging process later on? Owners of animals whom have had a positive cancer diagnosis are more invested in their animal’s health and overall wellbeing compared to owners of animals that have not been diagnosed with cancer (Bianco et al., 2020). Dogs that have been diagnosed with cancer are more likely to receive pricier meals such as raw diets or home cooked meals compared to dogs whom do not have cancer and are fed conventional meals such as commercial dry food (Bianco et al., 2020). Dogs that have already been diagnosed with cancer are more likely to receive holistic supplements to enhance their diet such as cannabidiol (CBD) products, mushroom extracts, or turmeric/curcumin (Bianco et al., 2020). Why is it that once an animal has received a grim diagnosis such as cancer that owners tend to increase their overall care to their animals? The investment of purchasing raw diet feeds and additional dietary supplements or taking the time to make home cooked meals for our animals seems to begin once our furry loved ones become sick. What if these investments were made when our animals are young and active in their prime years? Are there preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of terminal diagnoses such as cancer in dogs? The answer is YES!
Cannabinoid Receptors Research
Cannabinoid receptors are already present in the body and are activated by the ingestion of CBD and the endocannabinoid system (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). CBD may serve as a preventative maintenance tool as part of the aging process when an animal is diagnosed with cancer (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). When there is inflammation present in the body, CB2 receptors increase dramatically to lower the overall inflammatory response which can lower the risk of cancer (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). There is also current research being studied with initial data demonstrating that CBD may be able to reduce the risk of cancer through preventative tumor growth and reduction in the size of tumors (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). Several additional studies need to be completed on how animals treated with CBD will respond to the diverse number of tumors that can be present in the body (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). Further research is also required to determine the proper dosing for CBD treatment on animals who are diagnosed with cancer versus a preventative measure treatment option for healthy animals (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017).
The endocannabinoid system has been established in veterinary medicine through receptor mediated pathways such as Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2) and non-receptor mediated pathways utilized by phytocannabinoids (Silver, n.d.). Endocannabinoids are lipophilic and are created on an as needed basis in the body from cell membranes (Silver, n.d.). Endocannabinoids are synthesized through the activation of G-protein coupled receptors or from the increase of neuronal cell calcium levels (Silver, n.d.). When calcium levels reach a certain threshold, endocannabinoids serve as an antioxidant by protecting oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, and neurons through the reduction of calcium within their cells (Silver, n.d.). CBD has a stronger antioxidant effect on the body than Vitamin E or C due to the endocannabinoid’s system capability to repair damage from free radicals (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). Due to their antioxidant effect, the endocannabinoid system serves as a neuroprotective element to the brain and serves as a cancer preventative tool by repairing damaged cells from reactive oxygen species (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). As of current research to date, the canine species specifically has the highest concentration of CB1 receptors in their brain compared to any other species (Silver, n.d.). The endocannabinoid system is very active in the brain through killing damaged cells to improve brain performance which could lead to a decreased risk in brain cancer (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). There is also research exploring how CBD plays a role in the generation of new brain cells in aging animals (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). As our furry loved ones get older, the production of new cells in their body decreases causing the aging process to speed up (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). Small amounts of CBD may aid the brain to engineer novel nerve cells to help the body stop the progression of neurodegenerative disease in animals as they age (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). Additional studies are needed to examine the aging process in dogs whom have been fed CBD as a supplement for their entire life. The endocannabinoid system plays a preventative role in a myriad of other bodily systems.
In animals, the endocannabinoid system has the capability to engineer anti-neoplastic effects in “cancer of the breast, prostate, bone, skin, brain (gliomas), and lung” through the utilization of CB2 receptors which are found on tumor cells (Silver, n.d.). Endocannabinoids are currently being researched for their tumor suppressive properties through their natural upregulation process in the presence of benign or malignant tumors (Silver, n.d.). In genetic mouse models where CB1 receptors were manipulated and removed from the body, there was a rise in the growth of tumors (Silver, n.d.). Cannabinoids also have the power to induce cell death through the apoptosis mechanism with the goal of reducing cancer cell growth factors in the body (Silver, n.d.). “Cannabinoids can induce autophagy, apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, reduce angiogenesis, tissue invasion and metastasis, without affecting normal cells” (Silver, n.d.). In addition to internal organs, CB receptors are present on the skin and can be activated through CBD topical applications (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). This can be helpful when animals are diagnosed with skin cancer, psoriasis, or mast cell tumors to promote healthy new cell growth (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). Cannabis topical skin products with higher THC content may be safe for animals due to their non-psychoactive properties through the topical application compared to ingestion (Leinow and Birnbaum, 2017). Further research is needed on the efficacy of CBD products for internal tumors and external tumors and proper dosing for animals whom are suffering from cancer.
Dosing Research for Giving CBD to Dogs
Depending if owners are giving CBD to their animals to combat a cancer diagnosis or as a preventative option, there are a myriad of ways that CBD products can be given to dogs based on their dosing, potency, and efficacy needs. In this scientific study, researchers analyzed diverse methodologies for dogs to absorb CBD based products and measure how their bodies reacted based on pharmacokinetic values (Bartner et al., 2018). These dogs were given CBD through either CBD infused transdermal cream, oral microencapsulated oil, or oral CBD-infused oil over a six-week period (Bartner et al., 2018). Each animal was given 150 mg or 300 mg of CBD per day based on their 10mg/kg or 20 mg/kg of body weight (Bartner et al., 2018). Bloodwork panels were analyzed at weeks two, four, and six of the study with the highest CBD concentration levels reported in the blood from animals who were given the CBD infused oil (Bartner et al., 2018). This data implies that out of the three methods given to the dogs, the CBD infused oil was the most potent and had the strongest effect on the dog’s bodies (Bartner et al., 2018). The transdermal cream was the least potent followed by the oral microencapsulated oil falling in the middle. Cannabinoids from the transdermal cream would have become bound to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body that are lipophilic meaning that they may have not been able to pass through all of the layers of the skin which may have been why they were not absorbed as well (Bartner et al., 2018). This study only took place over a six-week period and further research is needed to analyze the absorbance of CBD products over significantly longer periods of time (Bartner et al., 2018). This study was conducted to only include dogs that were considered healthy based on previous bloodwork and veterinary exams and further research is needed on how dogs absorb CBD based products when they are diagnosed with differing maladies (Bartner et al., 2018). This study demonstrates the potency of CBD products and provides possible options for owners when they are choosing what types of CBD products to give to their animals.
No Date: (N.D.)
Cannabinoid Receptor 1: (CB1)
Cannabinoid Receptor 2: (CB2)
Bianco, A. V., Abood, S., Mutsaers, A., Woods, J. P., Coe, J. B., & Verbrugghe, A. (2020). Unconventional diets and nutritional supplements are more common in dogs with cancer compared to healthy dogs: An online global survey of 345 dog owners. Veterinary and comparative oncology, 10.1111/vco.12599. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/vco.12599
Silver, R. J. Veterinary Cannabis: Regulatory, Pharmacology, Safety, Applications (Pain & Cancer).
Bartner, L. R., McGrath, S., Rao, S., Hyatt, L. K., & Wittenburg, L. A. (2018). Pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol administered by 3 delivery methods at 2 different dosages to healthy dogs. Canadian journal of veterinary research = Revue canadienne de recherche veterinaire, 82(3), 178–183.
Leinow, L., & Birnbaum, J. (2017, November 07). CBD as Preventative Medicine. Retrieved October 31, 2020, from https://www.projectcbd.org/medicine/cbd-preventative-medicine