Study: Cannabis beneficial to cancer patients

Hospital study finds that using cannabis reduces suffering from cancer and from side effects of cancer treatments • Use of cannabis for palliative treatment should be advanced, study recommends.

Meital Yasur Beit-Or
AP

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Photo credit: Medical marijuana “cigarettes”

Researchers from Haifa’s Rambam Hospital have recommended increasing the usage of cannabis for cancer patients suffering from their illness or from the side effects of cancer treatments.

Using cannabis was effective in reducing many of the painful side effects associated with chemotherapy, the study, led by Dr. Gil Bar-Sela from the hospital’s oncology department, found.

“All cancer or anti-cancer treatment-related symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, mood disorders, fatigue, weight loss, anorexia, constipation, sexual dysfunction, sleep disorders, itching and pain had significant improvement [after cannabis use],” the study, titled “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine,” concluded.

While 31 percent of those surveyed reported suffering from nausea at the onset of the study, after using cannabis this fell to 8%. And while 76% of respondents reported mood disorders as a result of cancer treatments, this fell to 46% after using cannabis.

“There were no significant side effects to the cannabis use, except for memory loss in the 106 patients who continued cannabis use,” the report said. It noted that the memory loss could also be tied to the patients’ use of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills during the study.

The study surveyed 211 cancer patients who had medical licenses to procure medical marijuana. Those surveyed were interviewed twice, first before using cannabis, and then again six to eight weeks later. Many did not complete the study: 25 stopped using cannabis after one week, and 50 participants passed away before the end of the study.

“Although studies with a control group are missing, the improvement in symptoms should push the use of cannabis in the practice of oncology palliative treatment,” the report concluded.