SOURCES: Katherine Babin, graduate student, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada; Stephanie Fobion, MD, medical director, North American Menopause Society, Pepper Pike, Ohio; Nese Yuksel, PhD, professor of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, University of Alberta; North American Menopause Society, annual meeting, Washington, DC. According to principal investigator Catherine Babin, a graduate student at the University of Alberta in Canada, middle-aged women transitioning to menopause use cannabis because of symptoms that coincide with menopause. Up to 74 percent of women reported improvement in symptoms after using cannabis, said lead researcher Nace Yuksel, professor of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Alberta. Overall, women who used cannabis reported more menopausal symptoms than those who did not use cannabis, but we can’t determine which way this relationship goes, Babin said. Fobion, Yuksel and Babin agreed that until there is more medical evidence about the benefits of cannabis, women are better off relying on proven treatments for menopause. The findings were presented Wednesday at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society in Washington, D.C. The results presented at the medical meetings are considered preliminary before publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Further research is needed to determine exactly whether cannabis is an effective and safe treatment for menopausal symptoms, Babin said. Faubion said the findings suggest that women who use cannabis have more severe symptoms. It hasn’t been formally studied in postmenopausal women, so we don’t know what the benefits or risks might be, Faubion said. Harvard Medical School offers more information about treating menopausal symptoms. We have safe and effective treatments for menopausal symptoms, “she” said. For the study, Babin and “her” colleagues surveyed about 1,500 middle-aged women in the Canadian province of Alberta. Doctors need to look closely at their patients to assess their symptoms and suggest effective treatments, Yuksel said. Many middle-aged women seem to agree as they use marijuana to cope with changes in their lives, the new study found. Among current users, 75 percent said they use marijuana for medical purposes, although only 23 percent have received a prescription from a doctor.