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Cannabis Use Lower in Cancer Survivors Than General Population

Factors associated with use or nonuse found to be similar between the groups

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Cancer survivors use cannabis at slightly lower rates than individuals without a history of cancer, according to a study published online Aug. 13 in Cancer.

Elizabeth K. Do, Ph.D., from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and colleagues used data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study (waves 1 to 4: 2013 to 2018) to identify predictors of past-year engagement with cannabis among both individuals who reported a cancer diagnosis at wave 1 (1,022 participants) and individuals who reported never having cancer at any wave (19,702 participants).

The researchers found that in the most recent survey, 8 percent of cancer survivors reported past-year cannabis use versus 15 percent of those without a cancer history. Across all time points, cannabis use was reported among 3.8 percent of cancer survivors versus 6.5 percent of those without a cancer history. Older age and having health insurance were associated with a lower likelihood of engaging in cannabis use in both groups, while greater levels of pain were associated with a higher likelihood of engaging in cannabis use. Being a woman, being White, and having better mental health status were associated with a lower likelihood of engaging in cannabis use among those without a cancer history.

“Given that patients, regardless of cancer status, may elect to use cannabis for pain, other symptom management, or recreational purposes, clinicians will need to be able to counsel patients on cannabis use in clinical contexts, particularly related to the efficacy and harms of cannabis as a symptom-management tool,” the authors write.

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