Nature Reviews Cancer 12, 436-444 (June 2012) | doi:10.1038/nrc3247

OpinionTowards the use of cannabinoids as antitumour agents

Guillermo Velasco1,2,3, Cristina Sánchez1 & Manuel Guzmán1,2,4  About the authors


Various reports have shown that cannabinoids (the active components of marijuana and their derivatives) can reduce tumour growth and progression in animal models of cancer, in addition to their well-known palliative effects on some cancer-associated symptoms. This Opinion article discusses our current understanding of cannabinoids as antitumour agents, focusing on recent insights into the molecular mechanisms of action, including emerging resistance mechanisms and opportunities for combination therapy approaches. Such knowledge is required for the optimization of preclinical cannabinoid-based therapies and for the preliminary clinical testing that is currently underway.

Author affiliations

  1. Guillermo Velasco, Cristina Sánchez and Manuel Guzmán are at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I, School of Biology, Complutense University, and the Instituto Universitario de Investigación Neuroquímica (IUIN), Madrid 28040, Spain.
  2. Guillermo Velasco and Manuel Guzmán are also at the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red sobre Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas (CIBERNED), Madrid 28040, Spain.
  3. Guillermo Velasco is also at the Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria del Hospital Clínico San Carlos (IdISSC), Madrid 28040, Spain.
  4. Manuel Guzmán is also at the Instituto Ramón y Cajal de Investigación Sanitaria (IRYCIS), Madrid 28040, Spain.

Correspondence to: Guillermo Velasco1,2,3 Email:

Published online 4 May 2012