Could Cannabis Help Prevent Against Alcohol-Related Liver Disease?
Alcohol is one of the most widely used intoxicants in America, despite its multitude of health risks. Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death, right behind tobacco. One of the potential long-term dangers of alcohol abuse is liver disease, due to the fact that the substance is processed through the organ to enter the bloodstream. However, new research finds that cannabis may reduce the risk.
A recent study published in the academic journal Liver International set out to determine if marijuana, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, had any effect on the development of certain liver diseases in people who abuse alcohol. Researchers collected data on people over the age of 18, all of whom were either current or former alcoholics. They were looking at the correlation between four different types of advanced liver diseases and within users non-cannabis-users (90.39%), non-dependent-cannabis-users (8.26%) and dependent cannabis users (1.36%).
The study determined that, “among alcohol users, individuals who additionally use cannabis (dependent and nondependent cannabis use) showed significantly lower odds of developing four different types of advanced liver disease. Further, dependent users had significantly lower odds than non-dependent users for developing liver disease.”
Previous Research Showed Benefits of Marijuana on Liver
This isn’t the first time cannabis has been shown to prevent problems in the liver. A 2017 study conducted by the University of Massachusetts Medical School showed that pot users were at a lower risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a disorder typically caused by poor diet. Researchers found that cannabis users showed significantly lower (43 percent) NAFLD prevalence compared to non-users.
“We observed a strong dose-dependent reduction in the prevalence of NAFLD with cannabis use suggesting that cannabis use might suppress or reverse NAFLD development,” said lead researcher Terence Ndonyi Bukong.