Cannabis is a plant that contains over 100 chemical compounds, some of which have psychoactive and medicinal effects. Cannabis has been used for various purposes throughout history, including religious, recreational, and medical reasons. In recent years, cannabis has gained popularity as a potential treatment for various health conditions, including cancer.
Cancer is a group of diseases that involve abnormal cell growth and can affect different parts of the body. Cancer can cause various symptoms, such as pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Cancer treatment can also have side effects, such as hair loss, weight loss, infection, and inflammation. These symptoms and side effects can affect the quality of life and well-being of cancer survivors, who are people who have been diagnosed with cancer and are still alive.
Many cancer survivors use cannabis to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Cannabis can help reduce pain, nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, and insomnia. Cannabis can also help improve mood, relaxation, and coping skills. However, cannabis use among cancer survivors is not well understood or regulated. There is a lack of scientific evidence on the effectiveness, safety, and dosage of cannabis for cancer survivors. There is also a lack of guidance and education for cancer survivors and health care providers on how to use cannabis responsibly and legally.
Survey Examines Cannabis Use Among Cancer Survivors
A recent survey conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center examined the patterns, preferences, and reasons for cannabis use among cancer survivors in the United States. The survey was published in the journal Cancers and involved 1,886 cancer survivors from 41 states. The survey asked questions about the type, frequency, and amount of cannabis used, the timing of use in relation to cancer diagnosis and treatment, the medical or recreational reasons for use, and the perceived benefits and harms of use.
The survey found that nearly half (48%) of the cancer survivors had used cannabis at some point in their lives, and about one-third (34%) had used cannabis after their cancer diagnosis. Among those who used cannabis after their cancer diagnosis, 43% used it for medical reasons, 28% used it for recreational reasons, and 29% used it for both reasons. The most common medical reasons for cannabis use were pain relief (64%), sleep improvement (50%), and stress reduction (49%). The most common recreational reasons for cannabis use were enjoyment (67%), relaxation (60%), and socialization (36%).
The survey also found that the type and amount of cannabis used varied among cancer survivors. The most common forms of cannabis used were flower (67%), oil (49%), and edibles (45%). The average amount of cannabis used per session was 0.66 grams for flower, 0.24 milliliters for oil, and 23.5 milligrams for edibles. The average frequency of cannabis use was 3.6 times per week for flower, 2.9 times per week for oil, and 2.4 times per week for edibles. The survey also found that most cancer survivors (79%) obtained their cannabis from legal sources, such as dispensaries, friends, or family.
Cannabis Use Is Widespread But Not Well Regulated
The survey results show that cannabis use is widespread among cancer survivors, and that many of them use it to cope with their symptoms and stress. However, the survey also reveals some challenges and gaps in the current state of cannabis use among cancer survivors. For example, the survey found that only 46% of the cancer survivors who used cannabis had discussed it with their health care providers, and only 24% had received a medical cannabis recommendation. This suggests that many cancer survivors may not receive adequate information or guidance on how to use cannabis safely and effectively.
Another challenge is the lack of standardization and regulation of cannabis products and dosages. The survey found that the potency and purity of cannabis products varied widely among cancer survivors, and that many of them did not know the exact amount of cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), in their products. This can make it difficult to determine the optimal dose and ratio of cannabinoids for each individual and condition. Moreover, the survey found that some cancer survivors experienced negative effects from cannabis use, such as paranoia, anxiety, and impaired cognition.
Cannabis Use Needs More Research and Education
The survey authors conclude that cannabis use is a common and complex phenomenon among cancer survivors, and that more research and education are needed to understand and improve its use. They recommend that future studies should investigate the efficacy, safety, and mechanisms of cannabis for different types of cancer and symptoms, as well as the interactions and synergies between cannabis and conventional cancer treatments. They also suggest that health care providers should be more aware and open about cannabis use among cancer survivors, and that they should provide evidence-based information and recommendations on how to use cannabis appropriately and legally.
The survey authors hope that their study will contribute to the growing body of knowledge and dialogue on cannabis use among cancer survivors, and that it will help inform policy and practice in this emerging and evolving field. They believe that cannabis has the potential to be a valuable and complementary option for cancer survivors, as long as it is used with caution and care.