“Medical marijuana” is not safe for treating childhood cancers

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Cairo: Dr. Hani Ramzi Awad

The medical debate does not stop over the necessity of using Medical Marijuana in the treatment of different types of cancer, as well as about and to what extent the feasibility of using it outweighs the side effects they cause.
Of course, these discussions escalated after the use of marijuana was greatly expanded as a form of treatment for many diseases in some medically advanced countries.

Cancer treatment interactions The
most recent American study has dealt with this controversy and discussed the pros and cons resulting from its use in children suffering from different types of cancers, whether as an analgesic for strong pain or an anti-nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. A detailed report was presented on the experience of Colorado Children’s Hospital in the United States in using the treatment.
One of the most important side effects of using medical marijuana to treat cancer is drug interactions. And by chemical reactions, we mean the contradiction in the action of the different drugs that the patient takes if the body deals with them metabolized through the same source. Usually, excess amounts of chemicals are treated and eliminated by the kidneys or liver.
In the case of medical marijuana, the liver is responsible for the biological handling of these substances. The problem is that many of the drugs that a cancer patient takes are also biological treatment and disposed of in the liver as well. Which leads to a reaction produced from it, either to strengthen the drug’s effect; Which may also increase its side effects or double its effect completely and be of little medical benefit.
Doctors at the hospital explained that they do not routinely administer medical marijuana to all sick children. But this is done to control some symptoms that do not respond to regular medications such as excruciating pain or persistent vomiting, especially since there are still no specific medical recommendations for dealing with marijuana mainly.
They indicated that some parents resort to these medicines after the child is discharged from the hospital without a medical recommendation because they want to help their children overcome the difficult symptoms, especially since parents may be unaware of the danger of this matter to the child. This prompted the hospital to establish a medical consultation service for families with sufficient information.

Medical marijuana
and the report presented a trial of treatment on 50 children who came to the hospital after a medical consultation service that decided the preference for medical marijuana treatment.
Of them, 80 percent had cancer, and 20 percent were treated for other diseases that could be treated with medical marijuana, such as epilepsy. Another percentage wanted to try the treatment only and see how effective and safe it could be.
And for children with cancer there was a certain percentage of them that their parents had already given them medicinal marijuana as a pain reliever before they signed up for a medical counseling program and came to the hospital. It should be noted that the state of Colorado allows children under the age of 18 to obtain medical marijuana as a treatment if it is prescribed by two different doctors on separate occasions for medical necessity.
Doctors indicated that most of the children were on some form of treatment containing cannabidiol (the name for the cannabis plant from which this drug is made). Despite the popularity of this drug after being medically licensed, they cannot confirm that these drugs are completely safe, especially since there are many chemicals that go into the manufacture of medicinal marijuana that differ from the plant.
Even the plant itself is not safe in the long term on the body, which is why these plants have been made illegal for decades. As a result of the counseling program followed in the hospital, recommendations were made that this type of treatment is unsafe for a proportion of children, which amounted to 64% of the total of 50 children.
Parents have been advised to change the date of marijuana administration to children in case it cannot be completely dispensed with in later cases of illness in which the pain does not respond to the usual analgesics. This is to avoid interfering with the effect of each drug with the other, so that drug therapy and marijuana are not taken at the same time, especially if it can be postponed in the event that the symptoms are not severe enough.
The researchers warned parents against resorting to marijuana therapy without consulting a doctor. Because some types contain serious side effects, and because of doubts about their effectiveness in the first place. But perhaps the good thing about marijuana is that it can treat several symptoms simultaneously such as pain, vomiting and nausea.
The report stated, that treatment with marijuana is still in the process of experiments, and the feasibility of using it cannot be judged now. And doctors advised that we should wait before prescribing marijuana to children with cancer, and that it is not as effective as it is in adults, especially since the results may be less than expected. For example, some types of antiemetics can succeed in stopping vomiting from chemotherapy no less than marijuana, and this may be due to the fact that some of these drugs contain something similar to chemically synthesized opiates.
In the end, the report did not resolve the controversy, but doctors advised that each case be evaluated separately, and the benefits and risks of using this type of treatment are weighed.

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