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Cannabis popular with cancer patients

Nearly a quarter of cancer patients in the US rely on cannabis for pain, loss of appetite or nausea

Cannabis popular with cancer patients. There is much speculation about the effects of the drug. But there is very little data available on what cannabis actually does for cancer patients, for example.

Cannabis popular with cancer patients
Cannabis popular with cancer patients

Cannabis is said to stimulate appetite, combat nausea and relieve pain – these are just a few of the beneficial effects that cancer patients and their doctors expect from cannabis use.

However, the data basis for the use of the substance in tumor diseases is insufficient. There are also concerns regarding the safety of use in immunosuppressed patients.

Cannabis popular with cancer patients …

A research team led by Steven Pergam from the Seattle Cancer Research Center has been investigating the prevalence of cannabis use among cancer patients, as well as asking about the causes and effects of the intoxicant. 926 patients with different malignant tumors completed the survey.

The Cancer Research Center is located in the US state of Washington. The medical use of cannabis has been allowed there since 1998, and since 2012 its consumption has been fully released. Since 2014 cannabis can legally be bought there in the trade.

Consumption among the cancer patients surveyed was correspondingly widespread. 24 percent described themselves as active users. Three out of four consumers claimed to use cannabis at least once a week. 56 percent of the active users did this daily, 31 percent several times a day. Findings from patients’ urine specimens were consistent with the data ( Cancer 2017, online September 25 ).

… especially for pain

70 percent smoked or swallowed cannabis, and 40 percent used the drug in both ways. Seventy-five percent took cannabis for physical discomfort, especially pain, nausea, and lack of appetite.

Almost as many, 63 percent, used it to combat neuropsychiatric symptoms such as stress and depression or to use cannabis to better manage their condition and improve mood. 35 percent wanted to relax with cannabis.

And 26 percent believed the drug was helping with cancer therapy. More than half of the respondents said that legalizing cannabis made them more likely to take it.

Almost all patients wanted information about cannabis from their doctors and other oncology caregivers. But less than 15 percent drew their knowledge from these sources. And only eight percent said they did not need further insight into cannabis.


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