Researchers analysing data on almost 320,000 heavy drinkers have found that smoking cannabis may reduce their vulnerability to liver disease by "up to 55%".
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A new study has found that thousands of binge drinkers may be protecting themselves from liver disease if they also smoke cannabis.
This finding was identified after studying data from binge drinkers who smoked cannabis—which up made approximately 10 percent of the trial—with those who stated they had never smoked cannabis, which comprised up to 90 percent of the 320,000 participants.
Researchers found that both dependent and non-dependent cannabis users had a 45 percent reduced risk of developing alcoholic steatosis, or 'fatty liver disease'.
While it's still unclear why the drug has this effect, the study—which was led by Dr Adeyinka Charles Adejumo of North Shore Medical Center, Massachusetts—concluded that cannabis could "significantly lower odds" developing certain types of liver disease.
"While cannabis has demonstrated anti‐inflammatory properties, its combined use with alcohol and the development of liver disease remain unclear," the study stated.
The same study also found that they had a 55 percent reduced chance of developing cirrhosis, while their odds of steatohepatitis were also 43 per cent lower.
And they had 38 per cent lower odds of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) – the most common form of liver cancer.
In fact, the researchers claim that dependant users had lower odds for developing liver disease in general when compared to non-dependant users. The study authors noted that the receptors in the body that respond to cannabinoids do have the capacity to suppress the accrual of fat on the liver.
This also echoes previous medical research, which found that the cannabinoid receptors in the liver may be utilised to treat liver disease. However, the study was unable to determine which part of the cannabis plant offered the protective qualities.
According to Dr. Terence Bukong, from the University of Massachusetts, who said that, "our studies could not ascertain which cannabis strains were used."
"So we couldn't determine the cannabinoid content of what each individual ingested. We also couldn't ascertain the dosage or modes of use, although it's most likely through smoking."
"My research group is currently working to discover which cannabinoids or cannabinoid formulations will provide the best therapeutic benefits for specific liver diseases," Bukong said.
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