Study: Marijuana Use Linked To Lower Prevalence Of Fatty Liver Disease

Lowell, MA: Subjects who consume cannabis are significantly less likely to suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as compared to those who do not, according to population-based case-control data published in the journal PLOS One. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most prevalent form of liver disease in humans, affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people in the United States.

A team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and John Hopkins University in Baltimore assessed the relationship between cannabis use and NAFLD in a nationally representative cohort of 5.9 million hospitalized patients ages 18 or older.

Authors reported that the prevalence of NAFLD was 15 percent lower in occasional marijuana users than it was in non-users. More habitual cannabis consumers were 52 percent less likely to be diagnosed with the disease as compared to abstainers.

Researchers concluded, “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.”

Separate case-control studies have previously reported an inverse association between cannabis use and obesity and adult onset diabetes, both of which are risk factors for NAFLD.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, “Cannabis use is associated with reduced prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A cross-sectional study,” appears in PLOS One.