HomeNewsStudy Suggests THC Beneficial In Palliative Cancer Care

Study Suggests THC Beneficial In Palliative Cancer Care

German researchers have found the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may not only increase survival time, but increase quality of life in palliative care cancer patients.

THC is the intoxicating cannabinoid associated with the high marijuana users experience. But it’s also being used as a therapeutic agent to help manage various conditions, often at levels that don’t cause severe impairment.

While THC is being increasingly prescribed for palliative patients to address sleep quality and appetite issues and to reduce anxiety, stress, and pain, whether it has an effect either way on the survival time of these patients has been unclear.

Seeking to address this gap in knowledge, an analysis of 9,419 patients with a survival time of at least 7 days after inclusion in specialized ambulatory palliative care was carried out. These patients were split into three groups:

  • Without THC;
  • Low dosage THC  (≤4.7 mg per day);
  • THC in higher doses (≥4.7 mg per day)

Results indicate survival time was significantly prolonged by THC, but only among those where the daily THC dose was above the median of 4.7 mg. Survival time was 15 days longer in cohort 2, a subgroup of patients with a survival time between 7 and 100 days, (40 vs. 25 days), when more than 4.7 mg THC was prescribed per day.

The researchers noted patients administered THC also became more mentally and physically active. While 15 more days may not sound like a lot, it can be to someone who is dying and their families, particularly if the patient also has a decent quality of life.

“The increased activity and improved quality of life might enable the patients to renew social contact with relatives and friends and to settle essential affairs before dying,” state the researchers.

The research has been published in the journal Medical Cannabis And Cannabinoids. The authors acknowledge their study has several limitations, which have been detailed.

On a related note, a recent survey indicates a majority of hospice and palliative medicine (HPM) fellows still feel insufficiently informed about the use of medical cannabis. It also found some respondents rated cannabis as equally or more effective than conventional treatments for symptoms including anorexia/cachexia, nausea/vomiting, pain and neuropathic pain.

An earlier study in 2018 found 95.9% of participants with cancer surveyed (over half with stage IV – considered incurable)  reported an improvement in their condition through the use of medicinal cannabis.

Gillian Jalimnson
Gillian Jalimnson is one of Hemp Gazette's staff writers and has been with us since we kicked off in 2015. Gillian sees massive potential for cannabis in areas of health, energy, building and personal care products and is intrigued by the potential for cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative to conventional treatments. You can contact Gillian here.

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