False: Rick Simpson Oil (a cannabis extract) can cure skin cancer.

By: Nikita Kochhar
October 11 2022

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False: Rick Simpson Oil (a cannabis extract) can cure skin cancer.


The Verdict False

There is no available research to prove that RSO or any other cannabis-based oil can treat cancer.

Claim ID c01a9877


A Facebook post carrying two pictures of an elderly man, one with a face infected with some skin disease and the other with a clean look, claims that Rick Simpson Oil(RSO) can treat skin cancer. The post's caption said that the second picture was after the man used Rick Simpson Oil-a cannabis extract, implying that the oil cured his skin cancer. The caption read, "My grandfather's late-stage skin cancer before and after using Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). Only took three weeks. No wonder it's been illegal for so long #CannabisCures".

The post has been liked by more than 6,000 users and shared over 30,000 times. In the comment section, several people blamed the government for banning cannabis, adding that the government was doing it on purpose to keep big pharmaceutical companies in business.

In fact:

According to WebMD, though there's no solid evidence to prove that RSO treats cancer; however, some early research suggests that some chemicals in marijuana may have have “future potential to treat cancer”. 

RSO is an oil extracted from the flower of the cannabis (marijuana) plant and is high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive chemical in marijuana. In contrast, other cannabis oils contain a cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD) and little or no THC. Rick Simpson, an engineer and a cannabis activist based out of Canada claims on his website ‘phoenixtears.ca’ that marijuana helped lessen his dizziness and made his skin cancers go away. According to Simpson's website, "RSO is made from a particular type of cannabis called Cannabis indica, which produces a sedative effect that helps the body heal." He also shares the mechanism to make his namesake oil on his website. 

A 2014 study published in American Association for Cancer Research journal examined the effects of THC and CBD extracts on mice alongside radiation therapy. The study's results showed that the cannabis extracts enhanced the effectiveness of radiation against an active type of brain cancer. However, a similar analysis performed on humans showed that cannabis increased the growth rate of certain lung and brain cancer cells.  

The American Cancer Society on its website said that while the studies so far have shown that cannabinoids can be safe in treating cancer, they do not show that they help control or cure the disease. It also said that while some form of marijuana helped symptoms in patients in some studies, there are no studies in people of the effects of marijuana oil or hemp oil.

While WebMD reported that cannabis oils with THC may "help reduce nausea and vomiting for people undergoing chemotherapy” and that there is also “evidence that they can treat pain and improve appetite", smoking marijuana has several health risks involved. According to Healthline, smoking marijuana has several side effects, such as a weakened immune system, memory loss, reduced blood pressure, digestive issues, and increased risk of a heart attack for those with heart ailments. 

The American Cancer Society has also ewarned that “relying on marijuana alone as treatment while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.”

The verdict:

Some studies have shown that marijuana might help aid the after-effects of cancer and its treatment. However, there isn't sufficient proof to establish that Rick Simpson Oil can treat cancer. Hence, we have marked this claim as false.

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