Cannabis consumption used by cancer patients during immunotherapy correlates with poor clinical outcome

Gil Bar-Sela, Idan Cohen, Salvatore Campisi-Pinto, Gil M. Lewitus, Lanuel Oz-Ari, Ayellet Jehassi, Avivit Peer, Ilit Turgeman, Olga Vernicova, Paula Berman, Mira Wollner, Mor Moskovitz, David Meiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Cannabis or its derivatives are widely used by patients with cancer to help with cancer symptoms and treatment side effects. However, cannabis has potent immunomodulatory properties. To determine if cannabis consumption during immunotherapy affects therapy outcomes, we conducted a prospective observatory study including 102 (68 immunotherapy and 34 immunotherapy plus cannabis) consecutive patients with advanced cancers who initiated immunotherapy. Cannabis consumption correlated with a significant decrease in time to tumor progression and overall survival. On the other hand, the use of cannabis reduced therapy-related immune-related adverse events. We also tested the possibility that cannabis may affect the immune system or the tumor microenvironment through the alteration of the endocannabinoid system. We analyzed a panel of serum endocannabinoids (eCBs) and eCB-like lipids, measuring their levels before and after immunotherapy in both groups. Levels of serum eCBs and eCB-like lipids, before immunotherapy, showed no significant differences between cannabis users to nonusers. Nevertheless, the levels of four eCB and eCB-like compounds were associated with patients’ overall survival time. Collectively, cannabis consumption has considerable immunomodulatory effects, and its use among cancer patients needs to be carefully considered due to its potential effects on the immune system, especially during treatment with immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2447
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Cannabis
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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