If you think of Australia, you probably think of heat and the sun. Actually, you probably think of kangaroos and people wrestling with crocodiles, but you get the point. Australia is a sunny place, and it has one of the highest rates of skin cancer.
Now, researchers at the University of Canberra have signed a $1 million deal with Cann Pharmaceutical Australia to study how cannabis therapy can benefit melanoma patients. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer.
“Australians have the highest rate of melanoma in the world, with estimates of more than 13,000 new cases to be diagnosed in 2016 alone,” University of Canberra molecular and cellular biology professor Sudha Rao said in a statement.
“When you consider that melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australia and New Zealand, and almost 1,800 people will die as a result of this cancer this year, we need to work harder at finding effective treatments,” Rao said. Cann Pharmaceutical Ltd. has identified which strains to use for the therapy, and the treatment will be administered alongside standard melanoma treatments.
The trial will take two years, and the team doing the research has already done many cancer trials.
Previous research has shown some compounds found in cannabis, like CBD, may be able to stop skin cancer from growing, according to the Sun Times.
Australia is actually the first country in the world to see a decline in skin cancer rates in recent history, so the country may already be on the way to lessening the prevalence of the disease. Australian researchers have predicted that the skin cancer rates in the country will continue to fall for at least the next 15 years.
Part of the reason skin cancer has declined in Australia is that people are simply taking better care of their skin. The country has launched several educational campaigns that encourage people to wear sunscreen and be aware of how much time they’re spending in the sun.
Unfortunately, many older Australians had already had their skin damaged by years of sun exposure before these educational campaigns began.
Besides melanoma, cannabis compounds have also shown promise for fighting many other kinds of cancer, and many researcher across the world are studying these effects. Skin cancer affects millions of Americans, so being able to treat it with cannabis compounds could be welcome news.