Researchers call for doctors and medical organizations to communicate accurate information about the role of cannabis in cancer in view of the fake health information currently circulating on social media

In January 2019 researchers from the USA published the results of their study to assess online interest on the use of cannabis in cancer treatment and the growth of such information on social media. Search activity for cannabis and cancer was compared to searches for standard cancer therapies using Google Trends’ relative search volume tool and the information available was assessed as being fake, accurate, or irrelevant. The cannabis-related social media activities of cancer organizations was also evaluated. Results showed that the search activity for cannabis and cancer increased at ten times the rate of search activity on standard therapies, with the rate of increase being even higher in the US States where cannabis use was legal. One fake news story stated that cannabis was a cure for cancer and comprised almost a quarter of social media content on alternative cancer treatments. The top fake news story on this topic generated 4.26 million hits on social media, whereas the top accurate news story, which had debunked this fake news, only generated 0.036 million hits. Cancer organizations were found to only occasionally address the use of cannabis in cancer. The researchers concluded that there was a growing interest in cannabis use as a cancer cure, and that it was crucial for physicians and medical organizations to provide accurate information about the role of cannabis in cancer to the general public.

Shi S et al. False News of a Cannabis Cancer Cure. Cureus. 2019 Jan 19;11(1):e3918

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