New research indicates cannabis is a safe and effective complementary treatment for pain relief in cancer patients, according to a new study led by Canadian researchers. The research looked at 358 cancer patients and found that medical cannabis helped relieve pain in cancer patients while reducing the number of drugs required.
Products with an equal balance of THC and CBD were found to be the most effective, with THC-dominant and CBD-dominant products used by around a quarter and 17% of patients respectively
Researchers, who published their study in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, wrote that their findings indicate medical cannabis is “a safe and effective complementary treatment for pain relief in patients with cancer.”
Medical Cannabis Study Involved 358 Cancer Patients
Researchers from McGill University in Montreal, Harvard Medical School in Boston, and the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, among others, conducted the study, which involved 358 cancer patients. The researchers found that a third of all cancer patients and two-thirds of those who are terminally ill experience moderate to severe pain, but painkillers are the standard treatment.
Researchers gave patients cannabis-based medicines and monitored for a year. After taking the medicines, they reported feeling much less pain and that it was interfering less with their daily life. The most effective products were those with an equal balance of the active ingredients tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is known to produce a “high,” while CBD does not.
Of the patients studied, about 25% took THC-dominant products, while 17% used CBD-dominant products. About 38% used a balance of THC and CBD. The most common side-effects were dizziness and fatigue.
Past Studies Have Shown Benefits of Medical Cannabis for Cancer Patients
Other research has highlighted the benefits for cancer patients who use medical cannabis. For example, a recent study found that cancer patients in states with legal medical marijuana used fewer opioids because of the effectiveness of cannabis in managing pain. The study reviewed data from the National Inpatient Sample on cancer patients hospitalized between 2010 and 2014.
Researchers in the previous study discovered that patients in states with legal medical cannabis used nearly 40% less opioids than those in states without medical marijuana. The study also found that patients with Medicare were more likely to use medical marijuana. The researchers concluded that medical cannabis legalization may have a positive impact on the opioid crisis by reducing the use of opioids among cancer patients.
The new study adds to the growing body of evidence that cannabis-based medicines can be a safe and effective option for managing pain in cancer patients. As more research is conducted, there may be opportunities to expand the use of medicinal cannabis to other patients who experience chronic pain. However, it is essential that cannabis-based medicines are properly regulated and tested to ensure their quality, safety, and effectiveness.