Findings in a recent study suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) is effective at inhibiting the growth of, and even killing, cervical cancer cells. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid derived from cannabis plants like hemp.

Using test tube or culture analysis techniques, researchers from South Africa’s North-West University investigated the anti-proliferative effects of both CBD and cannabis sativa extracts, which contain CBD.

What the researchers discovered was that both isolated CBD and the cannabis extracts, even at varying concentrations, were effective at inhibiting the proliferation of cervical cancer cells. However, further examination revealed that it was the presence of CBD that was responsible for inducing apoptosis, a process that kills the cancerous cells. In addition, even at lower concentrations, isolated CBD was found to be more effective at inducing apoptosis than when it’s still blended with the other compounds that make up cannabis extracts.

“In conclusion, these data suggest that cannabidiol rather than Cannabis sativa crude extracts prevent cell growth and induce cell death in cervical cancer cell lines,” the study concludes.

The researchers weren’t able to identify the underlying mechanisms for CBD’s anti-cancer effects and urged for more research.

In the U.S., an estimated 12,820 women will be diagnosed this year with cervical cancer. While cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of death in women, that figure has drastically dropped over the past 40 years as women have started to get regularly pap tests. In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, where the researchers reside, cervical cancer takes the lives of approximately 250,000 every year.

CBD has demonstrated anti-cancer properties in previous research. A preclinical study from 2011 found CBD to induce apoptosis and inhibit breast cancer cells. While more research still needs to be done, the studies done so far indicate that CBD shows great promise as a potential treatment for cancer.