25% of Cancer Patients Now Use Cannabis
Nothing drives fear into the heart more than being diagnosed with the big C. Thankfully, this life-threatening disease no longer has to be a guaranteed death sentence because it’s one of the conditions that cannabis has been proven to treat and help manage effectively. Although there is no such thing as a 100% guarantee that cannabis use will heal everyone from cancer, the stakes are much higher already right now given what we know about the plant and the illness.
A new survey from Washington found that at least a quarter of all cancer patients have turned to MMJ use. The study, which analyzed more than 900 patients at the Seattle Cancer Center Alliance, revealed that 2/3 of the patients reported to using cannabis in the past. Another 25% of the patients also admitted to using cannabis in the last year, while 21% said they used it in the last month and 18% in the last week.
The patients said that they consumed cannabis either through inhalation or ingestion to help them manage nausea, stress, pain, insomnia, and depression; all of which are linked to a cancer diagnosis. What’s disappointing is that 75% of the patients admitted that they needed more information on cannabis and its health effects, which they couldn’t get from medical establishments but instead relied on external sources. Dr. Steven Pergram, one of the researchers, said that this could be a problem. “Cancer patients desire but are not receiving information from their cancer doctors about marijuana use during their treatment, so many of them are seeking information from alternate non-scientific sources,” he says.
Meanwhile, Dr. Pergram thinks that cannabis could have implications or side effects for cancer patients. “We hope that this study helps to open up the door for more studies aimed at evaluating the risks and benefits of marijuana in this population,” Dr. Pergram says. “This is important, because if we do not educate our patients about marijuana, they will continue to get their information elsewhere.”
Patients end up having to do their own research about cannabis online instead of relying on the healthcare system. Recently, a report also revealed that most healthcare providers don’t have enough training and education to provide information about cannabis, and clearly this is a problem in the community that should be addressed immediately.
To think that Washington has already pretty much completely legalized cannabis use, these results should have been higher since it would mean that patients don’t need to go through the procedure of getting an MMJ prescription. These figures are low when compared to the sheer number of patients who want to use cannabis.
“This study of cancer patients in a state with legalized cannabis found high rates of active use across broad subgroups, and legalization was reported to be important in patients’ decision to use,” the study concludes. The findings reveal that legalization is a significant reason behind the increased likelihood of cannabis use in more than half of the respondents. The researchers also gave some recommendations such as “…there is a need for clinical trials evaluating the role of cannabis in symptom management and for the development of formalized education for patients and health care professionals about the risks and benefits of use in this population.”
More Research Needed On Cannabis For Different Cancers
For as long as cannabis is still listed as a Schedule 1 drug, there will always be serious obstacles in scientific and medical research. Much of the studies analyzing the effect of cannabis for cancer is limited to animal models and cells, although that’s quickly changing. The sheer amount of anecdotal evidence available online is also encouraging.
Additionally, research shows that cannabis is a powerful alternative to conventional medicine with its great success in treating some kinds of cancers better than others. Recently, the medical community has placed a greater emphasis on the medicinal benefits of CBD as opposed to THC, but there have been some cases where high THC strains and oils have been proven effective in treating certain cancer. There is no doubt that each of these valuable cannabinoids play an important role in treating certain cancers, but the government is preventing the scientific community from engaging in potentially impactful studies for those living with cancer.
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