A new study has found that nearly a quarter of Seattle cancer patients have used cannabis to help treat symptoms like physical pain, nausea and depression – without consultation from their doctors.  

Researchers with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle surveyed 926 patients at the Seattle Cancer Centre Alliance in Washington State, where recreational cannabis use is legal.

The study – published in the journal Cancer – revealed that 24 percent of patients had used cannabis in the last year, while 21 percent had done so in the last 30 days. Roughly 66 percent had used cannabis at some point in the past.

The patients reported using cannabis to help treat cancer symptoms like pain, nausea, stress, depression and insomnia. Most of them however, hadn’t gotten information about the drug from healthcare professionals, but through outside sources. Researcher Dr. Steven Pergam said that's problematic.

“Cancer patients desire but are not receiving information from their cancer doctors about marijuana use during their treatment, so many of them are seeking information from alternate non-scientific sources,” he said.

“We hope that this study helps to open up the door for more studies aimed at evaluating the risks and benefits of marijuana in this population ... This is important, because if we do not educate our patients about marijuana, they will continue to get their information elsewhere.”

Almost three-quarters of those surveyed said they were very interested in learning more about cannabis for cancer treatment from healthcare professionals.

h/t The Independent