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Study: Marijuana Smoking Not Linked With Liver Disease Progression In Hep C Patients

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 18, 2013

    Marijuana smoking is not associated with the promotion of liver disease in subjects coinfected with both hepatitis C and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to data published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

    Investigators at McGill University in Montreal and the University of Toronto assessed the impact of marijuana smoking on liver disease progression longitudinally in a cohort of nearly 700 subjects with HIV and the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Study participants at baseline reported having previously used cannabis, on average, some seven times per week, with 40 percent of subjects acknowledging having consumed cannabis daily. Participants were monitored over a median period of 32 months.

    Investigators reported, “In this prospective analysis we found no evidence for an association between marijuana smoking and significant liver fibrosis progression in HIV/HCV coinfection.” Authors speculated that previously reported positive associations between cannabis smoking and liver disease progression were likely the result of “reverse causation due to self-medication.”

    Researchers concluded: “[I]n this first prospective evaluation of liver disease progression among HIV-HCV infected persons, we could not demonstrate any important effect of marijuana on liver disease outcomes. A causal association is unlikely: hazard ratios were weak and … there was no dose-response relationship. It is likely that previous studies have been biased by reverse causality as patients use more marijuana to relieve symptoms as liver disease progresses.”

    Subjects diagnosed with HIV and/or hepatitis C frequently report using cannabis to treat disease symptoms as well as the plethora of adverse side effects, such as nausea and appetite loss, associated with conventional drug therapies.

    Full text of the study, “Marijuana Smoking Does Not Accelerate Progression of Liver Disease in HIV–Hepatitis C Coinfection: A Longitudinal Cohort Analysis,” appears online in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The study abstract appears online here.

    22 Responses to “Study: Marijuana Smoking Not Linked With Liver Disease Progression In Hep C Patients”

    1. Patricia says:

      I was diagnosed with Hep C in 1996 due to a blood transfusion in 1987. I did the peg-interferon treatment for 6 wks and could not tolerate the side effects. I stopped the treatments and began smoking marijuana and changed my diet to vegetarian. (My dr said without the treatment I would be dead in 3 yrs. It’s been 15 yrs and I’m perfectly fine and my liver is healing itself with marijuana use.) I was arrested and convicted in 1998 for possession and I will be labeled a felon for the rest of my life. This has affected my life dramatically. I can not pass a drug required test for employment and being a felon is like a double barrel shotgun. Just because I needed blood and the donor was infected.

    2. Ken says:

      diagnosed with HEP-C over 10 years ago, took Inter- Feron, been in remission 8 years now, got busted in 95*, stopped smoking for 10 years
      started agin it really helped, but yes I’m a FELON, that’s why I always
      worked for my self,now moving to a state where I’m not a criminal!

    3. Miles says:

      @Patricia – It is because of stories like yours that I advocate for legalization! It makes absolutely no sense to make criminals out of people who choose to use a substance that is safer than the drugs the big drug companies produce and subsequently get the Govts approval to sell; in spite of the fact that most of them have very dangerous side effects.

      If our civilization survives long enough, I believe historians will look at marijuana prohibition as being laughably stupid.

    4. CR says:

      @Miles

      I think about that everytime I view this website.

    5. john holman says:

      Paul- why can’t someone like this sue the Fed for denying them curative medicine? Seems simple to me, is it because its schedule 1?

      [Editor's note: Numerous medical cannabis patients, including groups trying to get certified as a class action lawsuit, have tried and failed to date to survive a summary judgement motion by the government attorneys. More patients will sue in the future and hopefully one or more will win at trial and survive appellate review.]

    6. Billy says:

      polio,arthritis,depression,anxiety.I cant take anything for these illnesses due to my liver

    7. Danny K says:

      The benefits of marijuana have long been known but this modern society we live in so many are much like sheep and will believe the person who shouts the loudest and then do as there told as a long time user of the weed i will keep fighting its prohibition anyway i can

    8. john holman says:

      Well isn’t that a crock. So essentially the gov won’t allow it to be heard in court. Do they actually own the courts? Or do the people own the courts? How can the courts serve as a check on the gov if the gov controls what is heard? We live in a democracy on a conditional basis? I dont like it anymore than I like the random policy I’m under violating my 4th ammend rights, I guess I give them up when I partake though.

    9. Daniel says:

      Hopefully more states will follow in the footsteps of DC and California, and etc.. and legalize consumption. It’s a shame that some sick people are denied access to medicine based on misconceptions.

    10. jC says:

      I feel your pain Paticia and Ken, I too have hep-c and went through the pain of interferon and ribovibri treatment more than ten years ago. I am a genotype 1, which does not respond well to that treatment, and Cannabis did help me weather the chemical storm. So sad we still live in such a society that even someone sick cannot have safe access to a substance that should be legal recreationally. Thanks to NORML and others we are making progress, but how painfully slow. Thanks all.

    11. Judy says:

      @jC – “but how painfully slow”

      I think that accurately describes not only the situation but the average intelligence of America’s leaders! I mean, what else could account for the incredible stupidity of marijuana prohibition in spite of overwhelming evidence that it is NOT dangerous???

      I remember watching a debate with Brian Darling of the American Heritage Society. He is very anti-marijuana but he was actually bragging that he enjoys chewing tobacco and alcohol and occasionally does them both at the same time – “…because that’s legal!”

    12. jay wilbur says:

      for over 35 years I smoked for my ms 3 years now I have not took anything but dr. prissction med 3 year heavy liver dammage now and all my symptoms are getting worse . 33 plus years no symptoms but the occasional blackout from ms and slightly shakey hands . you do the math which is worse pot or mans piss poor attempts to cure you with their pills . as soon as I can iam moving to a / medical maj. state away from these dumbass’s and their so called cures

    13. Nathaniel says:

      It is sort of spectacular how the medical community keeps looking for potential risks involving cannabis usage, and associated illnesses being treated with cannabis or using cannabis products along with other therapies, and the results keep coming showing zero ill effects from said usage.
      Continued scientific proof is precisely what the movement needs to rid us of the stigma that it is just a recreational drug with harmful side effects.

    14. Adam says:

      I was an OTR truck driver for about 18 years. One day I was unloading part of my load when (as I picked up a box of meat) I felt LOTS of pain. Seems I herniated 2 disks severely. Docs operated twice on me and gave me oxy’s for 4 years! Had me hooked & messed up my body & head! So now I only smoke Maj. Then got busted!! These fricking people who make the laws should have to go through what the rest of us have had to. Maybe things would be a little differant! I would never wish bad things on people, but if they had this problem, I bet they would look at it differantly!

    15. GARY FROM MASS. says:

      TO ALL READERS OF THIS ARTICLE: I AM A 61YO M, FIRST DIAGNOSED WITH HCV IN ’99 WHILE HOMELESS-THUS COULDN’T TRY ANY BED RIDDEN MEDS 4 IT. THIS PAST YR I’VE LOST OVER 30 LBS OF MUSCLE MASS-NOW I’M AT ABOUT 120 LBS-& ENDED BED RIDDEN ANYWAY…LOL
      ANYWAY, MASS. VOTERS RECENTLY PASSED MMJ 4 PATIENTS WITH DEBILITATING DISEASES & ITS UP 2 THE DR-PATIENT MED RECORDS, ETC. I’M CURRENTLY TOKING ABOUT 1 1/2 GMS DAILY JUST 2 HAVE AN APPETITE-HOPEFULLY I’LL START FEELING STRONGER SOON…LUCKILY I HAVE SSI WHICH HELPS TOWARDS RENT,MEDS,ETC. MY LANDLORD WON’T LET ME GROW & I’M CURRENTLY FIGHTING MY STATE HEALTH CARE CLINIC WHO HAS RECINDED MY DR. CERTIFICATION DUE 2 FEAR OF LOSING 330 FED GRANT MONIES-ALTHO FED CASE LAW IN ‘CONANT V. WALTERS’ SEEMS 2 COVER THEIR AIDING & ABETTING ARGUMENTS-SO NOW I’M TRYING 2 GET MORE INFO FROM HHS IN WASH.D.C. ANYONE FROM A MMJ STATE HAVE A SIMILAR SITUATION?? BY THE WAY, ON SEPT.14 & 15, HIGH NOON TIL 6 PM, AT BOSTON COMMON, IS MASSCANN/NORML FIRST 2 DAY HEMPFEST IN AMERICA’S OLDEST PARK!! SEE U AT SOLDIER/SAILORS MONUMENT-PLAYING CHESS, TOKING & THANKING GOD 4 GIVING US CANNABIS…

    16. Cheryl says:

      been thru all the hep-c crap. now, they throw me to the curb after telling me it won’t work on long-term. So, i moved to a state where i could smoke and not go to jail. Everything was fine until I had to move back with my family. Now, no more smoke, no more treatment, and no long term hope. Being on S.S.I. has helped some, but I’m now have to move back to a state where I can smoke. I’ll be alone, but I’ll probly feel better.

    17. Hawkinit says:

      My husband is about to start Hep C treatments soon, I’m wondering if marijuana would help ease any of the symptoms. Any suggestions would be much appreciated! Check out our new Hep C blog at http://www.hawkinit.com – would appreciate any feedback or help on this issue – thanks!

    18. Marijuana smoking is safe if done with the medical marijuana vaporizers that is not harmful and safe in using it.

    19. just me says:

      My husband has been diagnosed with hep c his dr has told us that the use of cannibus will cause additional scarring to his liver and they will not do treatment unless he is thc free

    20. mike says:

      I live in Washington state and I have cirrhosis of the liver
      And will soon be in need of a transplant
      Unfortunately I won’t get one, even though I quit drinking 3years ago , the reason is because I use medica marijuana , the medical center has a different excuse,they say something about a fungus, all I hear from them is blah blah blah , they are all full of shit.

    21. Anonymous says:

      I have hepatitis C and now Im on the therapy. Its really hard and without Marihuana I would kill myself.. The side effects are horrible I lost a lot of weight and hair.And my doctor wants from me to quit smoking, Hes so stupid! I dont know what to doo even it is smoking pot or doing the terapy untill the end. Im devastated have to go now to a doctor to make a Drug Test. I hate these doctors. Wish I could live in America. The situation sucks.

    22. corey says:

      I have hep c. I’m 28 years old and a father of 2. i smoke a small amount daily. anyone who understands the lack of energy and depression caused by hep c would understand why we smoke. please legalize it in PA so i don’t have to feel like i’m committing a crime by being sick.

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