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Cervical cancer can be a deadly disease. Every year, thousands of women in the U.S. are diagnosed. And while mortality rates have dropped with greater access to screenings— specifically the pap test—it remains a cause of death for hundreds of thousands of women around the world. The more we learn about identifying, preventing, and treating cervical cancer, the more lives can be saved.

In recent years, cannabidiol has gotten some attention for possible relevance in the fight against several different types of cancer, and cervical cancer can be counted among them. But before too much hope is tied to headlines and claims of CBD’s cancer curing capabilities, it’s important to look at how much and how little we actually know so far.

In one notable cervical cancer study, CBD has been shown to provide an anticarcinogenic effect by triggering apoptosis of cancer cells. This means that cannabidiol can cause cancer cells to self-destruct and destroy their ability to reproduce. This benefit comes in addition to CBD’s anti-inflammatory property, which, according to researchers, may be useful in preventing conditions in the body that foster the development of cancer.

This means CBD oil’s cervical cancer benefits can be applied to treatment as well as prevention, but there are some important things to keep in mind. First and foremost, most of the studies that point to CBD’s potential for treating cancer are in vitro, meaning that results are gained by observing reactions in test tubes and Petri dishes. There is a significant gap to bridge between effective and reliable results in vitro testing—or even animal-based tests—and success in clinically controlled, human-based trials.

So far, the results of CBD cervical cancer studies and in tests against other types of cancer don’t yet confirm that cannabidiol is a sure-fire cure or a means of making the body cancer-proof. Those same results, however, can provide a good foundation for the development of anti-cancer drugs. Other studies that have pointed to how CBD oil benefits breast cancer show that cannabidiol can be very effective at inhibiting the spread of tumors in breast tissue while leaving healthy tissues intact. These properties have been prevalent in studies examining CBD’s effect of colon cancer and certain types of brain cancer.

Researchers are also working to determine whether CBD alone or a combination of CBD and THC, such as that obtained through whole-plant marijuana, is more effective in promoting anticarcinogenic mechanisms within the body.

Though cannabis-based medicine for the treatment and prevention of certain cancers is still theoretical, CBD may be beneficial for easing the side effects of certain cancer treatments. Cannabidiol has been reported to help in reducing nausea, insomnia, pain, and inflammation, as well as feelings of anxiety and depression that can result from the condition. Of course, adding CBD oil to any overall cancer treatment or preventative health regime should first be discussed with a doctor.

So with regard to CBD’s ability to fight, prevent, and treat cervical cancer: more time and trials are needed before we know the effects with any certainty, but there is firm footing for CBD to play a role in the future of cancer-fighting drugs and treatments.