According to new research, many breast cancer patients are using marijuana products for pain relief to ease the side effects of their cancer treatment.

An online anonymous survey of more than 600 adults with a breast cancer diagnosis found that 42 percent reported using some form of cannabis for relief of symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, pain, insomnia, anxiety and stress. The report was published Tuesday in Cancer.

“They are not using it to get high, but to manage the side effects of breast cancer or the treatments for breast cancer,” said the study’s author, Dr. Marisa Weiss.

Weiss, who is the founder and chief medical officer of and an oncologist at the Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, also added, “It can be a pretty rough ride. People are struggling to keep going and to have a reasonable quality of life.”

To take a closer look at breast cancer patients’ use of the plant, Weiss and her colleagues sent a 47-question survey to 612 adults — 605 were women and five were men. The other two preferred not to answer the question about gender. All were recruited via and’s community.

39 percent said they had mentioned cannabis to their doctors, while 4 percent of the 306 participants who said they wanted more information had turned to their physicians for information on the drug.

Out of the 42 percent who said they were using cannabis, 78 percent said they were using it for pain relief, 70 percent to help with insomnia, 57 percent to relieve anxiety, 51 percent to deal with stress, and 46 percent to stem nausea and vomiting. 79 percent said they used cannabis during treatment.

“Few are telling their doctors about it,” said Weiss, “and many are getting information, as well as products, from family members.”

Weiss is concerned that patients aren’t consulting with their doctors.

“Some of these products can interact with treatments they are taking, and there is a safety issue there,” she said. “We want to make sure they get relief from their symptoms without interfering with the treatments.”

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