Alcoholics who use cannabis are less likely to have liver disease, according to a new study being published in the journal Liver International and epublished ahead of print by the U.S. National Institute of Health.
“Abusive alcohol use has well-established health risks including causing liver disease (ALD) characterized by alcoholic steatosis (AS), steatohepatitis (AH), fibrosis, cirrhosis (AC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)”, states the study’s abstract. “Strikingly, a significant number of individuals who abuse alcohol also use Cannabis, which has seen increased legalization globally. While cannabis has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties, its combined use with alcohol and the development of liver disease remains unclear.” With this in mind, the aim of the study was to “determine the effects of cannabis use on the incidence of liver disease in individuals who abuse alcohol.
For the study, researchers analyzed “the 2014 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project – Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) discharge records of patients 18years and older, who had a past or current history of abusive alcohol use”. Using the International Classification of Disease, Ninth Edition codes, they “studied the four distinct phases of progressive ALD with respect to three cannabis exposure groups: non-cannabis-users (90.39%), non-dependent-cannabis-users (8.26%) and dependent cannabis users (1.36%).” Researchers “accounted for the complex survey sampling methodology and estimated the adjusted odds ratio (AOR) for developing AS, AH, AC and HCC with respect to cannabis use (SAS 9.4).”
The study “revealed that among alcohol users, individuals who additionally use cannabis (dependent and non-dependent cannabis use) showed significantly lower odds of developing AS, AH, AC and HCC (AOR: 0.55[0.48-0.64], 0.57[0.53-0.61], 0.45[0.43-0.48] & 0.62[0.51-0.76]). Further, dependent users had significantly lower odds than non-dependent users for developing liver disease.”
Researchers conclude by stating that; “Our findings suggest that cannabis use is associated with reduced incidence of liver disease in alcoholics.”
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