Ingredient in cannabis restores taste for cancer patients

February 22, 2011

The ingredient that gives cannabis its "high" and famously whets the appetite can help cancer patients recover lost pleasure in food, according to a study published on Wednesday.

Researchers in Canada enrolled 21 patients who had been treated with for advanced cancer, and gave them either capsules containing THC -- delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis -- or dummy lookalike pills.

The volunteers took the tablets for 18 days, and were asked to fill in questionnaires.

Seventy-three percent of those who took the THC reported an increased liking for food and 55 percent said the medication "made food taste better". In the placebo group, these figures were only 30 percent and 10 percent.

Both groups consumed roughly the same total of calories, but the THC patients said they ate more protein than before the start of the experiment and enjoyed savoury foods more.

The THC-takers also reported better quality of sleep and relaxation than in the placebo group.

The experiment is small scale but the first to explore the touted qualities of THC through random selection of volunteers and use of a "control" group by which to make a comparison.

Lead investigator Wendy Wismer, an associate professor at the University of Alberta, said the findings were important because cancer, or its treatment, can cripple appetite and lead to dangerous weight loss.

Many , for instance, complain that meat smells and tastes unpleasant, so they eat less of it.

"For a long time, everyone has thought that nothing could be done about this," Wismer said in a press release.

"Indeed, cancer patients are often told to 'cope' with chemosensory problems by eating bland, cold and colourless food. This may well have the result of reducing food intake and food enjoyment."

Wismer said that doctors should consider THC treatment for cancer patients suffering from loss of taste, smell and appetite.

THC was well tolerated, and in terms of side effects there were no differences between the THC and placebo groups, which suggests that long-term therapy is also an option, she said.

The study appears in the journal Annals of Oncology, published by the European Society for Medical Oncology.

More information: "Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol may palliate altered chemosensory perception in cancer patients: results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial". Annals of Oncology. doi:10.1093/annonc/mdq727

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11 comments

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210
1 / 5 (1) Feb 22, 2011
When you are ill, take a pill,
When you are thirsty, drink you fill!

Do everything, everything you can to keep your health for, as long as you have it, you CAN get back or obtain ANYTHING else!!!

-word-
zielwolf
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 23, 2011
I'm sure it won't make an iota of difference to the plenitude of evangelical religious nuts out there who insist on believing that consumption of THC is a gateway to demon possession and smack/crack addiction. Remember we're supposed to be Fighting The War On Drugs, not legitimizing them.
Sarai_RSA
5 / 5 (2) Feb 23, 2011
I think offering dying patients any form of relief is quite acceptable. Chemo absolutely ravages their bodies. I'm glad that research like this is being done purely because alleviating suffering is worth it.
JRDarby
4 / 5 (5) Feb 23, 2011
I'm sure it won't make an iota of difference to the plenitude of evangelical religious nuts out there who insist on believing that consumption of THC is a gateway to demon possession and smack/crack addiction. Remember we're supposed to be Fighting The War On Drugs, not legitimizing them.


Being pro-life ends at birth for most pro-lifers.
baudrunner
1 / 5 (1) Feb 23, 2011
Between marijauna and chemo therapy, I would choose Marijauna and STAY ALIVE LONGER! Chemo kills.
JRDarby
5 / 5 (3) Feb 23, 2011
Between marijauna and chemo therapy, I would choose Marijauna and STAY ALIVE LONGER! Chemo kills.


Chemotherapy is used to kill the cancer; cannabis is used to limit some effects of the chemotherapy treatment (e.g. appetite suppression, lack of energy, etc.) and it does this quite effectively--far more so than pharmaceuticals that try to mimic the action of naturally-occurring cannabis and its compounds. Chemo and cannabis are not mutually exclusive. That said, there has been some research that shows cannabis contains compounds that inhibit cancer growth. Even still, there is *NO* indication as far as I am aware that cannabis is a legitimate treatment, by itself, for cancer.
geokstr
1 / 5 (4) Feb 23, 2011
Being pro-life ends at birth for most pro-lifers.

Bullshit.

Where'd you get that ancient discredited talking point, TPM or NARAL?
geokstr
1 / 5 (3) Feb 23, 2011
Ingredient in cannabis restores taste for cancer patients.

Time to put some money in the stock of Screaming Yellow Zonkers, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Ripple.
JRDarby
3 / 5 (2) Feb 23, 2011
Well, they sure aren't trying to repeal welfare and poverty alleviation legislation out of concern for other people.
JRDarby
1 / 5 (1) Feb 23, 2011
Ingredient in cannabis restores taste for cancer patients.

Time to put some money in the stock of Screaming Yellow Zonkers, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Ripple.


And, typically, you are making fun of what is a serious issue for thousands of dying cancer patients.
geokstr
1 / 5 (4) Feb 27, 2011
Well, they sure aren't trying to repeal welfare and poverty alleviation legislation out of concern for other people.

Well, we've spent several tens of trillions of dollars on the "War on Poverty", and what has it gotten us? Exactly the same poverty rate, only now it's multi-generational, with the black family structure literally destroyed by government paternalism, and they're still working on the Hispanic and white families.

Don't even try to make people attempt to stand on their own two feet - that's liberalism at work. Give them handouts of other people's money instead. The hated Thatcher said it well. "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

This story is being played out in WI and IN and OH as we speak. There is no more other people's money left to give away.

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