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Evidence Lacking for Cannabinoid Use in Children With Cancer

However, review reports no serious cannabis-related adverse events

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 30, 2023 (HealthDay News) — There is a lack of evidence regarding the dosing, safety, and efficacy of cannabinoids for children with cancer, according to a review published online Aug. 28 in Cancer.

Manik Chhabra, Pharm.D., from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to appraise the existing published literature for cannabis product use in children with cancer. A total of 19 unique studies with 1,927 participants with cancer were included: eight retrospective chart reviews, seven randomized controlled trials, two open-label studies, and two case reports.

The researchers found that the studies reported use of various cannabis products for symptom management. Eleven of the studies (58 percent) reported use of cannabinoids for the management of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Somnolence, dizziness, dry mouth, and withdrawal due to adverse events were more commonly associated with use of cannabinoids in controlled studies. No serious cannabis-related adverse events were reported across any of the included studies.

“Data are lacking on cannabinoids’ effects on pain, mood, sleep, and health-related quality of life,” coauthor Lauren E. Kelly, Ph.D., also from the University of Manitoba, said in a statement. “Given that some children report benefits and some children experience adverse events, it is critical that more rigorous studies evaluating the effects of cannabinoids on children with cancer are conducted and shared with parents, patients, and the health care community.”

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