MAY 16, 2019 9:05 AM PDT

Cancer Patients Increase Cannabis Use 118 Percent in Nine Years

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Between 2005 and 2014, cancer patients increased their use of marijuana/ cannabis 114 percent, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. They tracked marijuana and opioid use by about 19,600 self-reporting adults with and without cancer during this time period. Respondents without cancer reported a much lower (12.5 percent) increase in cannabis use. For both groups, the odds of opioid use “did not significantly change” over time. The study states the rising levels of cannabis use overall “likely [reflect] increased availability and legislative changes.”

The study also found between 2018 and 2019, 40 percent of cancer patients and 38 percent of respondents without cancer used marijuana or cannabis-based products.

Image: marijuana, credit: public domain

“I was really surprised at how high marijuana use was even in the respondents who don't have cancer,” Dr. Jona Hattangasi-Gluth, lead investigator and associate professor of Radiation Medicine and Applied Sciences, said.

Hattangasi-Gluth and his team see cannabis as a possible alternative to opiods in an era when the U.S. is very much in a painkiller addiction/ substance use disorder crisis. In 2017, close to 50,000 people died from opioid overdoses, and about 20,000 people died from overdoses of other drugs.

“Medical marijuana legalization has previously been associated with a reduction in hospitalizations related to opioid dependence or abuse, suggesting that if patients are in fact substituting marijuana for opioids, this may introduce an opportunity for reducing opioid-related morbidity and mortality,” Hattangasi-Gluth said. He feels marijuana research should be approached with “the same quality of clinical trials and prospective trials that we use for any other drug.”

As reported by Weedmaps, the American Cancer Society (ACS) is reviewing its policies regarding the medical use of cannabis by people with cancer. Dr. Ted Gansler, ACS Strategic Director for Pathology Research, said this study’s findings support “the long term need for more clinical research as well as a short term need for expert advice regarding the possible benefits and side effects for people facing cancer.”

Research from 2018 found that in 2016, 320 out of 400 oncologists surveyed had discussed medical cannabis with their patients, and 46 percent had recommended it to some. But, 75 percent of them didn't feel adequately equipped to make appropriate recommendations.

Image: cannabis tea, credit: public domain

 

Sources: Wiley Online Library, Weedmaps

 
About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
You May Also Like
APR 14, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
APR 14, 2020
Urchin-shaped DNA Biosensor Detects Disease Earlier
For researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology developing a new class of nanodiagnostics, good thi ...
APR 20, 2020
Cancer
APR 20, 2020
Expanding the Diagnostic Toolkit in Cancer Research with isomiRNAs
Esophageal cancers are one of the more common cancers around the world, with an unfortunately poor prognosis. The five-y ...
APR 27, 2020
Cancer
APR 27, 2020
Talazoparib offers improved quality of life for breast cancer patients
Findings from the Phase III EMBRACA trial have been reported at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annu ...
MAY 11, 2020
Cancer
MAY 11, 2020
Using Deep Learning to Diagnose Breast Cancer Sub-Types
Cancer and computer programming may not sound like two things that go together. However, advanced programming techniques ...
MAY 23, 2020
Cancer
MAY 23, 2020
Can metformin treat lymphoma?
A popular diabetes medication may be useful in treating cancer, according to new research published recently in Cell Rep ...
MAY 26, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
MAY 26, 2020
Some People May be Predisposed to Metastasis if They Get Cancer
Cancer can occur for many reasons and is influenced by many different factors, including genes and the environment. But ...
Loading Comments...