Study Summary: Cannabis for Cancer (Israel)

A 2018 study entitled "Prospective Analysis of Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis in Large Unselected Population of Patients with Cancer" that was published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine explored the potential positive outcomes of treating cancer with cannabis.

This study, which included pioneering cannabinoid researcher Raphael Mechoulam, investigated the ability of medical cannabis to "alleviate pain and nausea in [cancer] patients with advanced disease." It analyzed data collected between 2015 and 2017 "as part of the [medical] program of 2,970 cancer patients treated with medical cannabis."

The average age of study participants analyzed was 60 and composed of 55 percent women. Twenty-seven percent of participants reported "previous experience with cannabis." Types of cancer among the cohort included breast (21 percent), lung (14 percent), pancreatic (eight percent), and colorectal (eight percent). Just more than half of participants were diagnosed as being at Stage 4 of their disease.

Professor Raphael Mechoulam (photo courtesy Raphael Mechoulam)


"The main symptoms requiring therapy were: Sleep problems (78 percent), pain (78 percent), weakness (73 percent), nausea (65 percent), and lack of appetite (49 percent). Six months following treatment, a quarter of participants had died and nearly 19 percent had "stopped the treatment."

Of those who responded, 96 percent reported "an improvement in their condition."

Of the remaining participants, 1,211, or 61 percent of the original cohort, responded. Of those who responded, 96 percent reported "an improvement in their condition," while four percent (45 patients) "reported no change" and 0.3 percent (four patients) said that their medical condition had deteriorated.


Concluded the study, "Cannabis as a palliative treatment for cancer patients seems to be a well tolerated, effective, and safe option to help patients cope with the malignancy-related symptoms."

While only a single study, the reputation of the scientists involved, combined with the conducive testing infrastructure offered by Israel (something lacking in the United States) has produced credible research data that can help future research teams best direct their resources in an effort to gain insight into the nuanced and subjective biochemical mechanisms underlying potential positive outcomes of cannabis use for cancer patients and other serious disease states and disorders.

View the original study.

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