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Cancer

Can`t sleep and no appetite

03/11/2008

Question:

I have no appetite and trouble sleeping after my tonsilar cancer treatment. I`m 54 , male. Without all the other things I`m quite aware of, I want to know if I`ll end up causing my cancer to come back if I smoked a THIRD of a marijuana joint every now and then. I was never a user. I tried it. It helps greatly. Will it end up killing me if I do it every now and then?

Answer:

Thank you for this very good question. Trouble with sleep and trouble with appetite can be very problematic and important issues for a person recovering from head and neck cancer. It is essential for you to get the best help with these problems possible.

However, marijuana use is against the law in Ohio, it does increase the chance of head and neck cancers, it is of unknown purity (estimates of over 250 potentially active substances in the stuff), and it is hugely varriable in "dose" of THC. For all fo these reasons it is NOT a medically reasonable alternative for your present situation.

If you need the appetite stimulation effect of marijuana then you should work with your oncologist or even family physician to consider prescribing Marinol (THC pills). The advantages of Marinol is that it is a known pharmaceutical purity and a fixed dose, and better yet it is legal and has no effect on increasing the chance of cancer. If you have trouble with insomnia ther are many quite effective sleep aids - both behavioral and medication. I strongly suggest that you work closely with your managing physicians on both of these important issues. Hope this is useful advice, and please write back if additional questions arise.

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Response by:

Ted   Parran, MD Ted Parran, MD
Associate Professor of General Medical Sciences
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University