People with and without cancer, over time, appear to use a more potent form of medical marijuana with increasing amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a new study shows.
In a report published March 26 in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, researchers say cancer patients are more likely to prefer forms of medical marijuana with higher amounts of THC, which alleviate the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of cancer treatment, including chronic pain, weight loss. and nausea.
In contrast, marijuana formulations higher in cannabidiol (CBD), which have been shown to reduce seizures and inflammation in other studies, were more popular among non-cancer patients, including those with epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, the study authors say.
Cancer patients are also more likely to take drops of medical marijuana under the tongue than to "vape".
More research and solid data needed
"While there is growing patient interest in medical cannabis, there is a lack of solid data on the benefits, risks and patterns of marijuana product use in various disease areas," said study leader Arum Kim, MD, assistant professor of Marijuana. medicine and rehabilitation medicine at NYU School of Medicine and director of the supportive oncology program at Perlmutter Cancer Center. "Such information is important for delivering the best care."
Since 1996, 31 states in the United States, including New York in 2014, have legalized medical marijuana.
Study and follow-up
For the study, researchers analyzed data from 11.590 men and women in New York, of whom 1990 (17,2 percent of the total patient cohort) were cancer patients who purchased and used cannabis products from Columbia Care LLC., A dispensary licensed in New State York, between January 2016 and December 2017.
The researchers caution that their data does not include the type of cancer the buyers had, how much of what they bought was used, or whether marijuana was used for symptoms unrelated to the cancer. Nevertheless, usage patterns among cancer patients were markedly different from those of non-cancer patients.
Specifically, the study found that cancer and non-cancer patients used different dosages of cannabis formulations with dramatically different THC: CBD ratios. The two most common formulations contained THC and CBD, but one had XNUMX times more THC than CBD, while the other had the opposite ratio.
Over the two years of the study, the research team found that all types of patients increased their THC dose by about 0,20 milligrams per week.
"Our research provides valuable new information about how cancer patients use marijuana," said Benjamin Han, MD, research industry researcher, an assistant professor of medicine and public health at NYU School of Medicine. "In the absence of strong clinical research data for medical marijuana, identifying usage patterns provides an idea of how to guide patients who have questions about medical marijuana use, and what may or may not help them."
Researchers say they next plan to get more detailed information about how medical marijuana affects patients' response to therapy and functional status at different stages of their disease, as well as the risks and side effects of the treatment. In addition, the profiles of other cannabinoids besides THC and CBD in medical marijuana products warrant further investigation, according to the study authors.
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