While Facebook may be a reliable source for your uncle’s political rants and one trillion baby photos, the social media giant is not always the most reliable when it comes to sourcing the news. A misleading cannabis headline recently swarmed the company’s news feed, proclaiming “Cannabis kills cancer.”
The headline was discussed in a recent Guardian article along with several other low-veracity items on Facebook’s news feed, including “Apple’s Aladdin’s lamp,” a story which claimed, “iPhone 8 will have Siri physically coming out of the phone and doing all the household chores” and another titled “Michelle Obama was born a man,” which is fairly self-explanatory.
The inaccuracy and dumbness of some of these headlines has become a problem for Facebook, which last month announced plans to join forces with Twitter and over 20 other media organizations to apply greater scrutiny to the news they disseminate and limit misleading or outright false information. The faulty headlines mentioned above still made it past the company’s new safeguards, but Facebook did combat a viral September 11 conspiracy theory last month during the fifteenth anniversary of the attacks.
As for the “Cannabis kills cancer,” that headline is somewhat factual, but pretty misleading. The fodder for the story was a HealthNetLive article called “U.S. just admitted that cannabis DOES kill cancer cells.” That piece references some very promising lab studies cited by the National Cancer Institute which show that cannabinoids have killed tumor cells in mice suffering from liver and breast cancers without negatively impacting healthy cells.
But what the article left out is that similar results have not been vetted in human subjects by government health organizations. “No clinical trials of Cannabis as a treatment for cancer in humans have been found in the CAM on PubMed database maintained by the National Institutes of Health,” according to the NCI.
In addition to the cancer-killing properties of specific cannabinoids on specific cancers in mice, NCI also noted that CBD has been shown to improve the effects of chemotherapy by increasing the damage done to cancer cells without impairing healthy cells. Other widely accepted health benefits such as easing chronic pain, increasing appetite, and reducing anxiety and sleep problems are also mentioned on the NCI’s cannabis page.
Image via Flickr user David Gach