Conflicting evidence in the world of research

6 Mar

The use of cannabis for medical use is a highly debated and researched topic, but it usually results in many mixed findings.

This is a highly controversial issue, and I realise that I am putting my head on the chopping block here, but all I can say is please be gentle.

I felt that this was an interesting topic to talk about because research shows so many mixed results, and I’d like to discuss the issue of mixed results briefly.

First of all I’d like to discuss the believed benefits of using cannabis as a medicinal substance, such as reducing the side effects of chemotherapy,  arthritis and glaucoma to name but a few.

Cannabis is believed to help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, as it reduces nausea and can allow those undergoing treatment to eat and make an attempt at living a normal life, however it is believed that it is no more effective than medicines that are already available to treat these side effects. Researchers were hopeful in 2007 that elements of cannabis known as cannabidiol (CBD), may be able to replace chemotherapy which would mean that patients would not suffer the side effects that come with chemotherapy. Cannabidiol is believed to stop cancer cell invasion, however it does not appear that it is any closer to being introduced as a treatment for cancer, but just scanning the results in Google it is clear to see that there has been a lot of research into this area.

It has also been found to help sufferers of arthritis, a research study found that cannabis was effective in relieving pain, and were safe to use, they did however state that more longitudinal research was needed in this area, but did find evidence that there were benefits in using cannabis (Lynch & Campbell, 2011).

Those are just a few of the research areas where there seems to be benefits in the use of cannabis, or more so the compounds within the drug, although smoking cannabis is used to reduce pain.

So what are the dangers of cannabis?

Well, according to the Medical Research Council researchers, smoking cannabis could potentially damage DNA which could leave an individual more at risk of developing cancer; however this is based on a person smoking an average of 3-4 joints a day. This highlights the damages that it could cause if a person were to smoke cannabis on a regular basis, and I’d imagine if a person was in a great deal of pain everyday they may smoke this much.

How about the compounds of cannabis, do they have dangers too?

I really struggled to find any major downsides for the use of the compounds for medical use, maybe it is because not enough research has been done in this area to assess the risks properly. However, Wang and colleagues found that the use of cannabidiol may cause relapses in terms of pain, vomiting, and dizziness. These are the kind of side effects that any of us may have after taking prescription drugs.

BUT after typing this I just read a really interesting article that has found that the medical use of cannabis can affect the working memory, this research mainly looked at the effects of THC which is some form of cannabidiol.

As you can see there is a lot of contradicting evidence for and against the medicinal use of cannabis. I should probably point out that cannabis is obviously illegal in the UK, which must point out the dangers that it carries. Although research does seem to highlight the benefits that the compounds of the drug has, but could all this research evidence cause confusion?

I think when there is a lot of research on a certain area that has produced a lot of different results; it may leave some people a bit jaded in the sense that they don’t know which is right. This area is a widely researched and has caused some debate, there are obviously some medical benefits to the compounds of this drug, but is the street drugs reputation overshadowing the advantages of the medicinal value?

In general though, I do believe if there are mixed results than it is bound to cause problems, it’s almost like when there is a case of rumours going round, and there are so many different versions to the story that you don’t know which the truth is.

Maybe in this case though because there is so much conflicting evidence maybe it should just be put to rest, as there are so many implications involved.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/emotional_health/addictions/cannabis.shtml

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7098340.stm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19914218

http://0-onlinelibrary.wiley.com.unicat.bangor.ac.uk/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2011.03970.x/pdf

http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Newspublications/News/MRC006135

http://www.cmaj.ca/content/178/13/1669.full

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120301143424.htm

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6 Responses to “Conflicting evidence in the world of research”

  1. maspb March 14, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    A brilliant topic to pick, both controversial and interesting. I will start by saying that I understand that marijuana has a lot of medical implications in treatment and I believe that it should be used (as a very last resort) to treat these disorders and alleviate sypmtoms. However I watched a really interesting documentary the other day called ‘A Bipolar Expedition’ on 4oD (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/a-bipolar-expedition/4od). In this program the film maker follows this very successful businessman around when he spends a lot of money hiring what is essentially a castle in Jamaica and invites 12 very beautiful Ukrainian women to stay with him for three weeks in the hope of finding a wife. What becomes obvious as the film carries on is that the man in question is going through a very strong mania phase and the program explains that taking marijuana can worsen the affects of the mania, causing illusions and hallucinations. This becomes very apparent when the man, who has been smoking cannabis regularly, calls himself Allah, says he will take over the world, and proceeds to ‘marry’ all 12 women who, despite the language barrier, humor him throughout the ‘holiday’.

    So what I am saying is that whilst marijuana can alleviate some symptoms of physical conditions it should be used with care when an individual is at high risk of developing a psychological disorder.

    I really do recommend you watch this program. Seeing the mania develop on camera is quite remarkable.

  2. kennedy92 March 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    A very brave topic to write about and completely relevant. The general use of the drug has dropped in all age groups; especially since the new laws that have been put in place (http://www.ic.nhs.uk/webfiles/publications/003_Health_Lifestyles/Statistics_on_Drug_Misuse%20_England_2010.pdf). I must admit this is a topic that I am slightly undecided on. I say this because I completely disagree with the casual use of cannabis because I know of the bad things it can do (http://www.urban75.com/Drugs/drugdope.html). It is also important to realise that cannabis effects different people in different ways; as can most other drugs, but you never know how you will be effected. Also, modern variations of the drug can cause hallucinations which is definately not a good thing. However, I have also known people who have used it in a medical way and said it helped but the important thing to remember (and as you said with medicine for chemotherapy) cannabis is not always the more effective choice. Something I didn’t realise is that the abuse of cannabis can damage DNA (like you said in your blog) and I think this an extremely valid reason why cannabis shouldn’t be used as medicine because it can affect generations to come. And of course it is illegal in the UK to smoke cannabis so it is interesting that this debate is so strong. There are places in America that have legalised the drug for medical use with strict restrictions but to me that sounds like such a difficult thing to monitor because people can get hold of it in illegal way (which we know in this country). I looked up some more of the symtpoms which cannabis is said to reduce (http://www.ukcia.org/medical/medicalusages.php). I was shocked and a bit confused at some of the ones which were suggested such as depression, epilepsy and asthma. It absolutely baffles me how cannabis can reduce the symptoms of asthma and to be honest I cannot believe how smoking anything could reduce the symptoms of asthma. I don’t think that a decision will be reached in the near future because there are so many different opinions and then you have to consider the harm the drug can cause even if it seems to be helping in the short term. here is another interesting webpage which discusses the major controversies: http://www.politics.co.uk/reference/cannabis-medicinal-use.

  3. felley March 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    A highly contraversial issue indeed, but executed brilliantly 🙂 You have raised some really good points and I think you might be interested in this…

    http://www.marijuana.com/threads/top-10-cannabis-studies-the-government-wished-it-had-never-funded.255769/

    “Oops, marijuana may prevent cancer parts I-IV” are interesting to read and provide eye-opening evidence in to the benefits of marijuana with regards to cancer. In part III 65,000 patients were studied (tobacco smokers, marijuana smokers and non-smokers) and it was found that cannabis smokers had the lowest chance of getting cancer even compared to non-smokers! Now, I know this is on a website called “marijuana.com” so it might seem biased but for those wanting to find out more, google is your oyester and will tell you that these findings are in fact true and not just made up by those who support the notion that it should be made legal. There are so many reasons which are thrown about as to why marijuana should be legal because in terms of physical health (if smoked on it’s own and not with tobacco) it does not appear to have any harmful affects but based on research and of knowing people who smoke excessive amount it does appear to be that it can affect mental health. I’m not saying like so many others that “cannibas will cause scizophrenia” and disorders such as this but it can be said that paranoia is definitely a side effect which is undesired by those who smoke it.

    At the end of the day, there are reasons as to why the government have made cannabis illegal and although research may suggest otherwise there is a very small chance that those members of the general public who do believe that it should be legal will be able to convince them otherwise. No matter how much conflicting evidence there is against a matter, what the government says goes and don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe it should be that way, they too should consider all viewpoints but they don’t and that’s the reality of it.

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