Marijuana May Help Cancer Patients, But Questions Remain

Article by Health Writer, Health Segment


Marijuana could potentially help cancer patients who have nausea or pain, and could possibly even be used as a treatment for certain cancers, but much more research is needed before any of these uses could be recommended, a new review article said.

There is promising research on marijuana use in the field of cancer medicine, but many of the studies that have been done are outdated, looked at only a small number of people or were conducted in animals, said Dr. Tina Rizack, a co-author of the review and an oncologist at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. This leaves questions about how that research may apply to human patients.For now, the drug isn’t recommended as a first-line treatment for any cancer or cancer-related side effect, but as legalization of, access to and research on marijuana increases, this may change, the researchers said.

“As [marijuana] becomes more available, patients will ask more questions about its therapeutic value, and, hopefully, more research will be done to answer these questions,” Rizack told Live Science.

In the review, the researchers describe several studies that suggest the synthetic forms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the active ingredient in marijuana had some anti-nasuea and anti-vomiting effects. For example, one study of 600 cancer patients found that the compound nabilone (a synthetic form of THC) was better at preventing nausea and vomiting than were several existing anti-nausea medications.

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