Infectious Disease

Study shows “sharp” decrease in perceived risks of cannabis use in older adults

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Han does not report any relevant financial information. Please refer to the study for all relevant financial information from the other authors.

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Perceived risks associated with regular cannabis use have decreased in older adults in the United States over the past five years, a trend analysis showed.

Cannabis use among older adults in the United States appears to be increasing over the past year: previously published data in JAMA Internal Medicine shows the percentage increased from 0.7% in 2009 to 4.2% in 2018.

Reference: Han BH et al. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2021; doi: 10.1111 / jgs.17213.

In the new study Benjamin Han, MD, MPH, a geriatrician and drug addict at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed data from a replicated cross-sectional sample of 18,794 adults, ages 65 and older, who completed the 2015-2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The researchers reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that in 2015 an estimated 52.6% of the survey sample felt “high risk” from weekly cannabis use. By 2019 this estimate had dropped to 47.2% (relative decrease = 18.8%; P <0.001). The largest decreases occurred among respondents who were never married (43.9% to 29.6%; relative decrease = 32.6%, P = 0.02); Men (46.2% to 36%; relative decrease = 22.1%, P <0.001); and residents of states where medical cannabis was legal at the time of survey (49.2% to 39.8%; relative decrease = 19.1%, P <0.001).

Han and colleagues also reported a significant reduction in perceived risk from 2015 to 2019 among respondents with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. “Notable” decreases were also seen in patients with kidney disease (58.6% to 39.8%; relative decrease = 32.1%, P = 0.001), COPD (50.3% to 39.5%; relative decrease = 21 , 5%, P = .02) observed. , and two or more chronic conditions (51.6% to 41.2%; relative decrease = 20.2%, P <0.001), the researchers said. In addition, they found a “sharp” decrease in perceived risk in those who either consumed tobacco (36.6% to 26.8%; relative decrease = 26.8%, P = 0.001) or binge drinking (33%) in the previous month , 2% to 22.8%; relative decrease = 31.3%, P = 0.004).

Benjamin Han |

“It’s hard to say that this is good or bad as there are no large, randomized controlled clinical trials that we would expect from other therapeutics for the practice of evidence-based medicine,” Han told Healio Primary Care.

He said research on the risks of cannabis use in the elderly is “very limited,” but those risks can include postural hypotension, dizziness, and confusion. A patient’s exact risks “depend largely on the individual, their underlying chronic conditions, and the other drugs they’re using,” Han said.

“It can also depend on what type of cannabis products they are using,” he added.

Aside from these variations, health professionals “should emphasize that any drug, especially those with psychoactive properties, can have potential for harm, especially in people with existing chronic illnesses,” Han said.

“Clinics, given the unclear benefits, should highlight the potential risks of cannabis use, especially for older adults at high risk for harm, including people who consume unhealthy alcohol or tobacco or who have certain chronic conditions,” he said.

References:

Han BH et al. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2021; doi: 10.1111 / jgs.17213.

Han BH et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2020; doi: 10.1001 / jamainternmed.2019.7517.

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