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Marijuana use could make prescription drugs ineffective 


Using marijuana could reduce the effectiveness of some common medications, including popular over-the-counter medications and others used to treat breast cancer, an expert says.

Dr Philip Lazarus, a pharmaceutical sciences at Washington State University, told UPI that his team has found is lab research that using marijuana could either supercharge, or even reduce, the effectiveness of drugs in a persons system.

Common medications like Tylenol, Motrin – or other ibuprofens – or blood thinners could be too effective when interacting with marijuana, and potentially harm the user.

On the other hand, an often used breast cancer medication can be rendered ineffective when it interacts with cannabis. 

The findings are worrying, as many people use marijuana to relax themselves, or even to manage pain. Use of the drug has become commonplace in recent years, and the research shows it could be doing damage to some people who require these medications day-to-day.

Marijuana could interact with some pain-killer or breast cancer treatment drugs in a way that could be dangerous. The drug interacts with Tylenol and ibuprofen in a way that could causes liver damage. For people who use tamoxifen, a breast cancer drug, marijuana could reduce the drug’s effectiveness (file photo)

‘We saw some significant inhibitions,’ Lazarus told UPI. 

‘The concentrations we see in the lab are probably an indicator there is at least some inhibition of these enzymes in real-time.’   

They looked at how two chemicals found in marijuana, CBD and THC, interact with enzymes and other bodily functions that allow a person’s body to break down that chemicals.

Warfarin, for example, is a blood thinning drug often used by people suffering blood clotting.

If the drug interacts with CBD, it become so effective that it could become dangerous. 

‘That one, you don’t mess with. The effects of having too high a level even transiently for a few days can be lethal,’ said Ed Bednarczyk, a professor at the University at Buffalo, told UPI.

‘That’s the king of the hill for risk, because it’s all over the map in terms of patient-to-patient variability.’

Marijuana can also supercharge the effects of ibuprofen. While the over-the-counter medication is generally safe in normal doses, it can become problematic to a person’s kidney if overused.

When it interacts with cannabis, ibuprofen or other pain killing medications like Tylenol, become extremely effective – almost too effective – and can cause liver damage. 

‘[Ibuprofen] is toxic to your liver and your kidney anyway, but you start taking marijuana on top of that, then you’re going to see some significant effects,’ Lazarus said.

‘It would probably cause toxicity because you’re slowing down its metabolism, so that means you’re not excreting the stuff and you have more of it sitting in your body.’

Tamoxifen, a drug used to treat breast cancer, has the opposite interaction with marijuana.

Tylenol and other pain killers could are commonly used, making marijuana use a potential danger to some (file photo)

Tylenol and other pain killers could are commonly used, making marijuana use a potential danger to some (file photo)

Researchers found that marijuana could negatively impact the enzymes a person’s body uses to break down the drug.

If the drug is not broken down enough in a person’s body, the full benefit of it will not be received, causing a person not to receive the total amount of treatment they are expecting.

This can be especially worrying since many breast cancer patients actually use marijuana for pain management, and to relieve stress, while receiving treatment for their disease. 

These findings are concerning for people who regularly use these drugs and consume marijuana, and Lazarus wants to further investigate these interactions between marijuana and prescription and over-the-counter medication.

‘We have to do some clinical studies to show in people that if you’re taking a specific drug and then you also smoke a marijuana cigarette that morning, you see higher or lower levels of that drug in your body,’ he said.

The usage of marijuana of in the U.S. has greatly increased in recent years as it slowly gains legalization and decriminalization across the country.

A study published earlier this year, that gathered data from 2017, found that over 15 percent of Americans had used marijuana over the past year, and the amount of people who used the drug daily had double from 2006 to 2016. 



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