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Study examines need for screening older Americans for cannabis use

More older Americans are using medical marijuana for chronic pain and depression, but there's is concern about other medications that may interact.
More older Americans are using medical marijuana for chronic pain and depression, but there's is concern about other medications that may interact.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – More people using medical marijuana among people age 50 and older is raising questions about the potential need for routine screenings in the population.

Data shows that cannabis use has more than doubled in the past decade among Americans over 50, suggesting that many may be self-medicating for age related issues such as chronic pain and depression.

“Well, as we know, with age comes more health problems, more medication, more doctors’ visits, so if there’s a lack of communication between patient and physician that they’re using medical marijuana, and between what they’re taking and the medical marijuana, it can increase the risk of fall and confusion and expose them to a lot of trouble,” said psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Bober.

Bober said a study published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse suggests doctors need to do more to screen and educate their older patients about the health effects and risks of cannabis use.

Vitamins and Health

And the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is still not convinced that most vitamins and minerals do anything to protect against conditions like heart disease and cancer.

The USPSTF said evidence is inconclusive that healthy adults need any supplementation and is specifically recommending against the use of vitamin E and beta-carotene.

Beta carotene has actually been shown to be potentially harmful to people *at risk* for lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.

The task force says a healthy diet, containing a variety of necessary nutrients, along with exercise, remains the best protection against disease.


About the Authors:

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.