ScienceDaily (Feb. 25, 2011) The active ingredient in cannabis can improve the appetites and sense of taste in cancer patients, according to a new study published online in the cancer journal, Annals of Oncology.
Loss of appetite is common among cancer patients, either because the cancer itself or its treatment affects the sense of taste and smell, leading to decreased enjoyment of food. This, in turn, can lead to weight loss, anorexia, a worse quality of life and decreased survival; therefore, finding effective ways of helping patients to maintain a good diet and consume enough calories is an important aspect of their treatment.
Researchers in Canada ran a small pilot study from May 2006 to December 2008in 21 adult patients with any advanced cancer (except brain cancer) who had been eating less as a result of their illness for two weeks or more. All were either being treated with chemotherapy or had been in the past. The patients were randomly assigned to receive medication from a pharmacist in a double-blind manner, which meant that neither the patients nor the doctors knew which treatment they were receiving. Eleven patients received oral capsules containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis — and eight patients were assigned to the control group to receive placebo capsules. The active capsules contained 2.5mg of THC and the patients took them once a day for the first three days, twice a day thereafter, and they had the option to increase their dose up to a maximum of 20mg a day if they wished; however, most followed the dosing protocol, with three patients in both groups increasing their dose to three times a day. The treatment ran for 18 days.
From patient answers to questionnaires conducted before, during and at the end of the trial, the researchers found that the majority (73%) of THC-treated patients reported an increased overall appreciation of food compared with patients receiving placebo (30%) and more often stated that study medication “made food taste better” (55%) compared with placebo (10%).
The majority of THC-treated patients (64%) had increased appetite, three patients (27%) showed no change, and one patient’s data was incomplete. No THC-treated patients showed a decrease in appetite. By contrast, the majority of patients receiving placebo had either decreased appetite (50%) or showed no change (20%).
Although there was no difference in the total number of calories consumed by both groups, the THC-treated
Full article source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110222192830.htm