People living with cancer are less likely to feel pain if they use medicinal cannabis, a new study suggests.

Researchers have discovered that oral treatments containing an equal amount of the active ingredients tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most effective when it comes to reducing pain.

According to these findings, medicinal cannabis can cut the number of drugs which are needed to treat people with cancer.

Currently, only specialist doctors in hospital can hand out NHS prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines.

In addition, they are only allowed to be prescribed for a small number of conditions, such as muscle stiffness caused by multiple sclerosis, vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy and severe epilepsy.

The researchers said: “Medicinal cannabis is a safe and effective complementary treatment for pain relief in patients with cancer.”

Prior studies have found that nearly 40% of people with cancer suffer with pain and more than 60% of individuals with advanced, metastatic or terminal disease experience pain.

During the study, the team of academics analysed the health records of 358 people living with cancer over a three-year period. Most of the participants were living with genitourinary, bowel or breast cancer.

Roughly 25% of the participants took THC-dominant products in the study, while 38% took a THC:CBD-balanced drug. The remaining participants took CBD-dominant products.

The researchers found that the participants in the THC:CBD-balanced group experienced less pain compared to those in the other two groups.

“The particularly good safety profile of [medicinal cannabis] found in this study can be partly attributed to the close supervision by healthcare professionals who authorised, directed, and monitored [the] treatment,” said the authors.

They added: “Our data suggests a role for medicinal cannabis as a safe and complementary treatment option in people with cancer failing to reach adequate pain relief through conventional analgesics, such as opioids.”

The study was published in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care.

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