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Men’s Health Week kicks off on Monday, with the goal being to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.
To quote Congressman Bill Richardson (Congressional Record, H3905-H3906, May 24, 1994): “Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.” Here at United Patients Group, we couldn’t agree more.
Men’s Health Week focuses on a myriad of major health issues that affect the male physiology and mentality, including male-specific cancers, depression, and more. We’d like to focus on the relationship between these maladies and medical cannabis and how it can potentially manage, or even improve, various health concerns among men.
Certain cancers affect men more than women, either due to anatomy or other genetic or lifestyle predispositions. The top three cancers that affect men in the United States are prostate, lung, and colorectal. Take prostate cancer for example: In the United States alone, approximately 233,000 men are diagnosed each year, resulting in over 29,000 deaths. This sums up to 5% of all cancer deaths in the US. Research into the treatment of this disease is vast, but still falls short of finding a “cure.” Just like the rest of the medical world, research into medical marijuana is making great strides in finding viable methods of managing these illnesses.
In 2015, a study published in Oncology Reports found overwhelming evidence of successful prostate cancer treatment with cannabis. The stimulation of cannabinoid receptors in the prostate was found to encourage cell death, known as apoptosis, in prostate cancer cells. The decrease in cell survival was statistically significant enough to exclude the possibility of chance rather than direct correlation of the treatment.
“These results suggest that the effect of endocannabinoids on [prostate cancer] cells… may be caused by the activation of the apoptotic pathway… The great advantage that the use of endocannabinoids may bring to the battle against prostate cancer is that it has been demonstrated that the receptors for these molecules are substantially overexpressed in cancerous prostatic cells when compared to normal, healthy prostate tissues… Based on these results, we suggest that endocannabinoids may be a beneficial option for the treatment of prostate cancer that has become nonresponsive to common therapies.”
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States among men, killing one in four men annually. Risk factors include diabetes, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use. New studies have shown that cannabinoids can produce benefits against hypertension, stroke, atherosclerosis, and heart attacks.
While most studies have been conducted on animals, a study done by scientists at the University of Nottingham School of Medicine has shown that cannabinoids affect the human cardiovascular system in much the same way. They’ve demonstrated that cannabinoids can cause blood cells to relax and widen, resulting in better circulation and lowering of blood pressure. This is good news, as it means reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Furthermore, if a stroke occurs, cannabis also has the ability to protect your brain by reducing the size of the area affected by the stroke.
While more commonly found in women, depression affects men as well, and can sometimes have more violent and fatal consequences in men. A study in 2014 found that 75% of suicides were committed by men.
Cannabis has been found to have some of the same properties and impact as anti-depressant medication, but without many of the unwanted side effects. Both treatments work by stimulating the endocannabinoid system found naturally in the body, and increasing neurogenesis.
Dr. Julie Holland, a psychologist and leading expert in the effects of cannabis on mental health, promotes cannabis as treatment for mental illnesses such as anxiety, PTSD, and even schizophrenia.
Speaking last month at our medical cannabis conference, Dr. Holland presented her findings and commented that “CBD can be a potent anti-inflammatory medicine and can also help to quell anxiety. There are also intriguing studies showing CBD may be helpful in the treatment of schizophrenia.”
A study conducted by researchers at the University College London determined that treatment of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotropic chemical found in cannabis, can result in deconditioning of learned responses to things or events that cause anxiety. Thus, they’ve proven that CBD can be employed in the reduction of anxiety and the treatment of PTSD.
Infertility and Sexual Performance
While the jury is still out on links between cannabis and infertility, due to a massive lack of research, leading urology experts such as Dr. Dudley Danoff agree that cannabis is a very unlikely candidate for infertility.
“I’ve seen all kinds of reasons for men’s infertility. I cannot imagine the use or choice to not use of cannabis has any real impact on sperm morphology or fertility. There are a myriad of reasons for infertility and one of the most common reasons is a varicocele. All kinds of other things can temporarily reduce fertility as well, such as wearing a jock strap on a hot summer day, or being in a sauna or hot tub.”
As far as sexual performance goes, the jury might as well be on vacation. Most knowledge of the effect of cannabis on sexual performance is anecdotal, with users on both sides of the issue touting the pros or the cons of its possible role. The best answer could be, like many things, that moderation is key. Too much use can result in erectile dysfunction, lack of desire, and problems with orgasm. On the other hand, a smaller dosage can cause an increase in desire and stimulation. Plus, research has shown that use of marijuana can boost stamina. Dr. Danoff explains:
“Cannabis use can retard ejaculation; making the period from arousal to ejaculation last longer.”
United Patients Group encourages all men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury and promotes the exploration of all options available for treatment. Though studies have shown that cannabis has a myriad of benefits in treating illnesses that men suffer, we invite everyone to do their own research, talk to their doctors, and find a treatment that works for them.