Cannabis May Help Cancer Patients and the Elderly
August 8, 2018
Study Finds — Cannabis has been used medicinally for hundreds of years, yet only recently have studies delved into determining whether it is safe and effective. Now, a group of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev want medicinal cannabis to become as conventional as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. They are urging the medical community to recognize the treatment as another powerful tool of modern medicine.
“We feel it is absolutely imperative to not only present the current state of affairs on cannabis, but also propose the development of the scientific research program within the paradigm of evidence-based medicine,” says Prof. Victor Novack, of BGU’s Faculty of Health Sciences and head of the Soroka Cannabis Clinical Research Institute. Prof. Novack is also BGU’s Gussie Krupp Chair in Internal Medicine.
Anecdotal evidence over the centuries has shown cannabis to have medicinal benefits as a way to assist with pain management, sleep deprivation and other medical needs.
As part of their research, BGU conducted two major studies tracking cannabis use in cancer patients and the elderly. In the first study, cancer patients experiencing sleep deprivation and pain were given cannabis. Of the 2,970 patients tracked between 2015 and 2017, 95.9 percent found cannabis to help with both issues.
The second study analyzed the use of cannabis in elderly patients suffering from several health problems, including pain and cancer, during the same time period. Again, the researchers established that cannabis is safe and effective in the elderly and may actually reduce the amount of prescription medication given, including those containing opioids.
The study was presented in the March 2018 special issue on cannabis in medicine of the European Journal of Internal Medicine.
“This special issue on cannabis and medicine covers everything you wanted to know about medical cannabis,” says Prof. Novack. “We hope that it will provide physicians with a contemporary summary of different aspects related to medical cannabis and guide choices for indications where the evidence is sufficient to initiate the treatment.
“We also hope the articles will facilitate the conversation on the future of medical cannabis research and its accommodation into mainstream medicine.”
Prof. Novack says this research affirms the need for more evidence-based research that includes data from double-blind, randomized-controlled trials with cannabis.
“Our ultimate aim should be to scientifically establish the actual place of medical cannabis-derived products in the modern medical arsenal,” he says.
The hope is that future studies will clear up some of the ethical issues involved in prescribing cannabis and will lead to a better understanding by doctors of when cannabis might be useful as well as recommended dosages.