A Quarter of Cancer Patients Use Marijuana to Treat Their Symptoms and 75% Want to Try It
- Maggie O'Neill
One-fourth of cancer patients in the US have used marijuana as a treatment within the past year, a new study has found.
And 75 percent are investigating the drug - but most are turning to less-official sources to find out about the benefits, rather than asking their doctors.
Researchers are warning that it is dangerous for these patients to consult people outside the medical profession about the use of drugs.
The news comes at a time when consumers are closely watching marijuana markets given the drug's legalization in 30 US territories.
The report's researchers are calling for a societal shift in the way patients view marijuana and urging cancer doctors to be able to speak with their patients about the drug's benefits.
For the study, researchers spoke to 926 cancer patients at the Seattle Cancer Center Alliance. The center is located in Washington State, which has legalized both medical and recreational marijuana use.
The median age of the participants was 58 years old, and the majority of them were men.
The research team found that 66 percent of the patients had used marijuana for medical purposes at some point.
Twenty-four percent had done so in the past year, 21 percent within the last month and 18 percent within a week of their participation in the study.
Among those who said they consistently used marijuana as a treatment, 74 percent said they used it at least once a week.
Most of the participants used marijuana to combat the physical symptoms they were experiencing.
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments that cancer patients undergo are often extremely painful, inducing vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea, mouth sores, hair loss, fever and other unpleasant side affects, which marijuana can ease.
Other participants turned to the drug for help alleviating the psychological effects of a cancer diagnosis, including stress, depression and insomnia.
The researchers obtained urine samples from the participants and found that those of 14 percent of the patients tested positive for recent cannabis use.
While almost three-quarters of the participants said that they wanted to hear more information on how marijuana can help them with the side effects of cancer, most of them said that they likely would not turn to their doctors for this knowledge.
Instead, they said they would utilize resources outside of their healthcare system.
Study researcher Dr Steven Pergam said: '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 continued, saying: 'If we do not educate our patients about marijuana, they will continue to get their information elsewhere.'
Dr Pergam warned that marijuana could be dangerous for some cancer patients so it is important that they feel comfortable speaking with medical professionals about it.
Article and image(s) from: Daily Mail