Insights on marijuana and opioid use in people with cancer

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A new study reveals that many people with cancer use marijuana, and rates of use in the U.S. have increased over time. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study also found that patients with cancer are more likely to use prescription opioids than adults without cancer.

Pain is a common symptom of cancer, and many affected patients do not receive adequate pain relief. In light of rapidly evolving marijuana legislation and a growing opioid epidemic, a team led by Jona Hattangadi-Gluth, MD, and Kathryn Ries Tringale, MD, MAS, of the University of California, San Diego, examined trends in the self-disclosed use of marijuana and opioids among patients with cancer.

After analyzing data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2014, the investigators matched 826 people with cancer to 1,652 controls without cancer. Among survey respondents who had cancer, 40.3 percent used marijuana within the past year, compared with 38.0 percent of respondents without cancer. Also, people with cancer were more likely to use prescription opioids than their demographically equivalent counterparts without cancer (13.9 percent versus 6.4 percent).

“Prospective clinical trials are needed to quantify the efficacy of marijuana in cancer-specific pain as well as the risk of opioid misuse in this patient population,” said Dr. Tringale. [Read More @ Science Daily]