According to a study, heavy alcohol drinkers who also smoke weed "can reduce up to 55% their chances of developing life-threatening liver diseases such as cirrhosis"
For those who drink and consume weed, the chances of developing serious liver diseases are reduced, including cirrhosis and cancer. Cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties and its compounds are currently the subject of hundreds of studies.
A study on 320 000 people
However, scientists say they are not sure why cannabis is good for the liver in combination with alcohol. The study was led by Dr. Adeyinka Charles Adejumo of North Shore Medical Center, Massachusetts.
Of the 320000 people studied who had a history of alcohol abuse, 90% had never smoked cannabis. About 8% of them smoked occasionally and 2% depended on it, which means that they experienced withdrawal symptoms when they did not take the drug.
Dependent and non-dependent smokers had a risk of alcoholic steatosis, or "fatty liver disease", of 45% lower. The risk of cirrhosis - scarring of the liver that could lead to liver failure - was 55% lower. The risks of steatohepatitis, a type of fatty liver disease, were also lower than 43%. In addition, the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) - the most common form of liver cancer - was 38% lower.
Dependent users were less likely than non-dependent users to contract liver disease in general, according to the researchers.
They wrote in the journal Liver International: "Although cannabis has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties, its combined use with alcohol and the development of liver diseases remains uncertain."
Earlier work by the same team, involving five million people who did not over-drink, revealed lower rates of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (YMPA) among cannabis smokers.
Cannabis against fat in the liver
The team noted that receptors in the body that respond to cannabis compounds have the ability to suppress the collection of fat from the liver, thus protecting it from the disease. Previous research has already revealed that cannabinoid receptors in the liver are potential targets for the treatment of liver diseases.
However, neither study clearly determines which part of the cannabis plant can be protective.
Dr. Terence Bukong of the University of Massachusetts, co-author of the research, told Healthline: "Our studies could not determine which cannabis strains were used. Therefore, we could not determine the cannabinoid content of what each individual ingested. We have not been able to determine the dosage or patterns of use, although this is most likely smoking. "
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive compound that creates a "high". But there are hundreds of other compounds in cannabis plants.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is believed to help reduce anxiety and inflammation and has taken the health market by storm.
But despite promises, experts are unlikely to advise starting to smoke cannabis if a patient has an alcohol-related disorder.
Some studies suggest that patients who try to recover more quickly from a hangover also smoke weed.
Dr. Bukong said, "My research group is currently working to find out which cannabinoids or cannabinoid formulations will provide the best therapeutic benefits for specific liver diseases."