February 23, 2011

More Research Regarding The Use Of Cannabis

Many studies have recently come out regarding cannabis and its effect on the body, but one thing has become certain about all of them: marijuana is a hot topic among researchers.

A new study published online Wednesday in the cancer journal Annals of Oncology found that the active ingredient in cannabis can improve the appetites and sense of taste in cancer patients.

The Canadian researchers' study involved 21 patients with any advanced cancer who had all been eating less as a result of their illness.  The patients were randomly assigned to receive medication, while 11 of those patients received oral capsules containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

The team found that 73 percent of THC-treated patients reported an increased overall appreciation for food compared with patients receiving placebo.

Fifty-five percent of the cannabis treated patients reported that food tasted better while taking the THC pills.

However, despite the positive results from the Canadian researchers, another recent study found that cannabis use can lead to sexual dysfunction.

Rany Shamloul, from Queens University's Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, recently found that cannabis use may have a negative impact on male sexual performance.

"Cannabis is the most widely-used illicit drug globally," says Dr. Shamloul, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. "It is also often used by young, sexually active people who are unaware of the hazardous effects it may be having on their sexual health and performance."

Recent studies have identified new negative connections between cannabis use and sexual dysfunction that may put an end to previous controversy.

Some scientists now believe that certain receptors in the brain that are effected by cannabis also exist in the penis.  Cannabis use may have an antagonizing effect on these receptors, making it more difficult for a man to achieve and maintain an erection.

"These findings will change the current understanding of the magnitude of the impact of cannabis use on sexual health," Shamloul said in a press release.

Shamloul's study will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

As new studies have continued to gain momentum on the positive and negative effects of marijuana, another new study suggests that the federal anti-drug campaign 'Above the Influence' has effectively reduced the use of cannabis by teenagers.

A study of over 3,000 students in 20 communities around the world found that by the end of 8th grade, 12 percent of those who had not reported to have seen the campaign took up marijuana use compared to only eight percent among students who had reported been familiarity with the campaign. 

"The "ËœAbove the Influence' campaign appears to be successful because it taps into the desire by teenagers to be independent and self-sufficient," Michael Slater, who was the principal investigator in the study, said in a statement.

In 2006, another study of the "Be Under Your Own Influence" anti-drug campaign reduced about half the number of students who began using marijuana and alcohol during the two years of the project, compared to students in the communities without the program.

Slater, from Ohio State University, said his new study was designed to replicate and extend the previous research.

The results of his research showed that the "Above the Influence" campaign was very successful in reaching students, as 79 percent said they had seen the ads.

"There was wide exposure to the national campaign, and it really swamped the effects of our local effort," Slater said.  "It took over, and we didn't see any independent effects for the "ËœBe Under Your Own Influence' campaign."

"Above the Influence' has succeeded more than its predecessor attempt to influence teens," Slater said.

Slater's study is published in the March 2011 issue of Prevention Science.


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