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News (Media Awareness Project) - Israel: Israeli Researchers Say More Doctors Should Recommend
Title:Israel: Israeli Researchers Say More Doctors Should Recommend
Published On:2012-01-30
Source:Ha'aretz (Israel)
Fetched On:2012-01-31 06:01:47

Most cancer patients currently being treated with medical marijuana
are advised of the option only in the advanced stages of the illness,
according to researchers.

More than two-thirds of cancer patients who were prescribed medical
marijuana to combat pain are reportedly satisfied with the treatment,
according to a comprehensive study conducted for the first time in Israel.

The study - conducted recently at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer,
in conjunction with the Israel Cancer Association - involved 264
cancer patients who were treated with medical marijuana for a full year.

Some 61 percent of the respondents reported a significant improvement
in their quality of life as a result of the medical marijuana, while
56 percent noted an improvement in their ability to manage pain. In
general, 67 percent were in favor of the treatment, while 65 percent
said they would recommend it to other patients.

The findings were presented earlier this month at an Israeli
Oncologists Union conference in Eilat. The study was led by Dr. Ido
Wolf, the director of oncology at the Sheba Cancer Center, with the
assistance of researchers Yasmin Leshem, Damien Urbach, Adato Berliz,
Tamar Ben Ephraim and Meital Gerty.

According to the study, the most common types of cancer for which
medical marijuana is prescribed are lung cancer (21 percent ), breast
cancer (12 percent ) and pancreatic cancer (10 percent ).

Researchers found that an average of 325 days passed between the time
that patients were diagnosed with cancer and the time that they
submitted permit requests to grow or possess medical marijuana. About
81 percent of those requests cited pain resulting from the illness.
Some 8 percent of patients requested medical marijuana to combat
nausea, while another 8 percent complained of weakness.

Most cancer patients who are currently being treated with medical
marijuana are advised of the option only in the advanced stages of
the illness, according to researchers. "The treatment should be
offered to the patients in earlier stages of cancer," the report notes.

The study shows that 39 percent of respondents were initially advised
of the treatment by friends, other patients or the media, rather than
by their doctors. According to the study, "The treatment should be
offered to patients by trained medical teams because we are dealing
with an effective treatment."

Side effects resulting from the regular use of medical marijuana were
defined in the study as "moderate." Dizziness was the main side
effect documented by the researchers.

According to Miri Ziv, the director of the Israel Cancer Association,
"Medical marijuana has become one of the treatments available to
cancer patients in Israel in recent years [and therefore] the
association believes that the issue should be regulated by the
professionals in the field."

In recent years, the number of medical marijuana users in Israel has
increased by some 66 percent per year, according to the study. To
date, medical marijuana has been approved for use by about 6,000
Israelis suffering from various illnesses, the report states.

While many legal issues related to medical marijuana use remain
unresolved, Health Ministry officials believe that once the issue is
fully regulated, the number of patients treated with medical
marijuana will reach 40,000.

Of the 12 farms authorized to cultivate medical marijuana in Israel,
at least seven are currently active, according to the report. Under
directives from the Health Ministry, the distribution centers
currently in operation are entitled to NIS 360 a month, per patient,
to supply medical marijuana. They are entitled to another NIS 24 for
rolling cigarettes and NIS 100 for delivery.

Patients who hold medical marijuana permits issued before 2009 are
entitled to grow up to 10 plants at home, with a maximum height of
1.5 meters. Permits issued during the past two years only allow
patients to possess medical marijuana, in keeping with the quantities
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