Abstract

We provide a systematic review and meta-analysis on the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of cannabinoids in palliative medicine. The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PubMed, Scopus, and http://clinicaltrials.gov, and a selection of cancer journals were searched up until 15th of March 2017. Of the 108 screened studies, nine studies with a total of 1561 participants were included. Overall, the nine studies were at moderate risk of bias. The quality of evidence comparing cannabinoids with placebo was rated according to Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation as low or very low because of indirectness, imprecision, and potential reporting bias. 

In cancer patients, there were no significant differences between cannabinoids and placebo for improving caloric intake (standardized mean differences [SMD]: 0.2 95% confidence interval [CI]: [-0.66, 1.06] P = 0.65), appetite (SMD: 0.81 95% CI: [-1.14, 2.75]; P = 0.42), nausea/vomiting (SMD: 0.21 [-0.10, 0.52] P = 0.19), >30% decrease in pain (risk differences [RD]: 0.07 95% CI: [-0.01, 0.16]; P = 0.07), or sleep problems (SMD: -0.09 95% CI: [-0.62, 0.43] P = 0.72). In human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients, cannabinoids were superior to placebo for weight gain (SMD: 0.57 [0.22; 0.92]; P = 0.001) and appetite (SMD: 0.57 [0.11; 1.03]; P = 0.02) but not for nausea/vomiting (SMD: 0.20 [-0.15, 0.54]; P = 0.26).

Regarding side effects in cancer patients, there were no differences between cannabinoids and placebo in symptoms of dizziness (RD: 0.03 [-0.02; 0.08]; P = 0.23) or poor mental health (RD: -0.01 [-0.04; 0.03]; P = 0.69), whereas in HIV patients, there was a significant increase in mental health symptoms (RD: 0.05 [0.00; 0.11]; P = 0.05). 

Tolerability (measured by the number of withdrawals because of adverse events) did not differ significantly in cancer (RD: 1.15 [0.80; 1.66]; P = 0.46) and HIV patients (RD: 1.87 [0.60; 5.84]; P = 0.28). Safety did not differ in cancer (RD: 1.12 [0.86; 1.46]; P = 0.39) or HIV patients (4.51 [0.54; 37.45]; P = 0.32) although there was large uncertainty about the latter reflected in the width of the CI. In one moderate quality study of 469 cancer patients with cancer-associated anorexia, megestrol was superior to cannabinoids in improving appetite, producing >10% weight gain and tolerability. In another study comparing megestrol to dronabinol in HIV patients, megestrol treatment led to higher weight gain without any differences in tolerability and safety. 

We found no convincing, unbiased, high quality evidence suggesting that cannabinoids are of value for anorexia or cachexia in cancer or HIV patients.

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Conclusions: Beyond the role of cognition in vulnerability to substance use, the concurrent and lasting effects of adolescent cannabis use can be observed on important cognitive functions and appear to be more pronounced than those

observed for alcohol. 

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Conclusion: Daily cannabis smoking is significantly associated with fibrosis progression during CHC. Patients with ongoing CHC should be advised to refrain from regular cannabis use.

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Abstract: Marijuana is one of the most widely used substances during pregnancy in the United States. Emerging data on the ability of cannabinoids to cross the placenta and affect the development of the fetus raise concerns about both pregnancy outcomes and long-term consequences for the infant or child. Social media is used to tout the use of marijuana for severe nausea associated with pregnancy. Concerns have also been raised about marijuana use by breastfeeding mothers. With this clinical report, we provide data on the current rates of marijuana use among pregnant and lactating women, discuss what is known about the effects of marijuana on fetal development and later neurodevelopmental and behavioral outcomes, and address implications for education and policy.

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Robert L. DuPont,⁎, Beth Hanb, Corinne L. Sheaa, Bertha K. Madrasc,d

a Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc., 6191 Executive Blvd, Rockville, MD 20852, USA 

b Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852, USA 

c McLean Hospital, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, USA

d Harvard Medical School, 25 Shattuck Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA 

Abstract: The prevalence of substance use disorders in adults is higher if substance use is initiated during adolescence, underscoring the importance of youth substance use prevention. We examined whether the use of one substance by adolescents is associated with increased risk for using any other substance, regardless of use sequences. In 2017 we examined data from 17,000 youth aged 12–17 who participated in the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a sample of nationally representative data on substance use among the U.S. civilian, noninstitutionalized population aged 12 or older. Descriptive analyses and multivariable logistic regression models were applied. After controlling for age, sex, and race/ethnicity, compared with youth without past-month marijuana use, youth with past-month marijuana use were 8.9 times more likely to report past-month cigarette use, 5.6, 7.9 and 15.8 times more likely to report past-month alcohol use, binge use, or heavy use (respectively), and 9.9 times more likely to report past-month use of other illicit drugs. 

The prevalence of past-month use of cigarettes, marijuana, and other illicit drugs was significantly higher among past-month alcohol users compared with youth without past-month alcohol use, and increased as intensity of alcohol use rose. Among past-month cigarette smokers, the prevalence of marijuana, other illicit drugs, and alcohol use were each significantly higher than youth without past-month cigarette use. Youth marijuana use, cigarette smoking, or alcohol consumption is associated with other substance use. 

This finding has importance for youth prevention, supporting a message no use by youth of any substance.

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