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Researcher Calls for More Studies Into Benefits of Medical Marijuana

Release Date: 03/23/2016

A medical oncologist and researcher at Women & Infants Hospital, a Care New England hospital, recently published the results of a study examining the potential benefits from medical marijuana use in oncology patients.


Medical Marijuana Use in Oncology,” authored by Tina Rizack, MD, with Women & Infants’ Program in Women’s Oncology, appears in the most recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Society (JAMA).


Medical marijuana use is legal in 23 states, including Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia, which means more and more patients are questioning their physicians about the benefits and risks of use, Dr. Rizack says. Her research was prompted by this trend and her desire to have answers.


The article reviews the history, side effects and proposed mechanisms of action of marijuana and summarizes available literature regarding symptom relief and therapeutic value in the oncology patient.


“Marijuana in oncology may have potential for use as an anti-emetic, refractory cancer pain, and as an anti-tumor agent, but we need to pursue those benefits through further research,” Dr. Rizack says - the article concludes that more research is needed in all areas related to the therapeutic use of marijuana in oncology. Much of the data to date, she notes, is based on animal studies, small trials or outdated research.


Women interested in making an appointment with Dr. Rizack or other providers with the Program in Women’s Oncology at Women & Infants can call (401) 453-7520.


About Women & Infants Hospital 

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the 9th largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year. A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.