Considering Cannabis? Consider This…

By Dr. Rachel Knox, MD, MBA, MCBA Medical Chair

Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke. These are the three leading causes of death in the United States. Add to this list Diabetes, Hypertension, HIV/AIDS and Obesity, and you have the top 7 chronic diseases and killers plaguing the African American community, and at disproportionate rates to Caucasian counterparts. This is a frustrating statistic given that these conditions are preventable and, with the exception of HIV/AIDS, naturally reversable. More concerning yet is the staggering difference in the care these populations receive for the same conditions, especially in regards to preventive resources, access to care, utilization of available care and equal quality of care.

According to Healthy People 2010, health disparities are “…differences that occur by gender, race or ethnicity, education or income, disability, [geographic location] or sexual orientation.” The National Institutes of Health define health inequalities as “…differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the Unites States.”

Healthy People 2020 defines a health disparity as “a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.

Despite national interest is closing health disparity or inequity gaps between racial and social classes, not much has improved over the past two decades. African Americans remain poorly represented in clinical trials, including both lifestyle interventions and drug studies, and racial differences in both disease incidence and mortality appear to be as significant as ever. African American adults are twice as likely as Caucasians to have Diabetes, and 41% more likely to develop high blood pressure., And in comparison with whites, black adults are 1.3 times as likely to die from heart disease, 1.2 times as likely to die from cancer, 1.4 times as likely to die from stroke, 2 times as likely to die from complications of diabetes, and 2.1 times as likely to die from high blood pressure. Health inequity is a chronic problem, and our conventional care system is likely not going to provide a solution — it hasn’t yet.

With decades of cannabis research showing potential in treating and reversing ischemic heart and brain disease, slowing tumor growth and killing cancer cells, lowering blood pressure and stabilizing blood sugars, assisting in weight loss and stimulating appetite, the evidence may indicate that it’s time to try something else: Medical Marijuana.

The following are links to the prevailing evidence regarding cannabis use for the very chronic diseases that disproportionately and most devastatingly affect the African American community.

Heart Disease: