Cannabis use should be discouraged in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC), according to researchers in France.

First, the details.

  • 315 patients with untreated CHC and having a liver biopsy were studied.
  • Detailed histories of recent marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco use were recorded.
  • The biopsies were examined using METAVIR — a scoring system that gives an indication of the activity or amount of inflammation and amount of fibrosis or scarring in the liver.

And, the results.
There were 6 predictors of marked steatosis (accumulation of fat in the liver).

  • Daily cannabis users compared to occasional users and nonusers
  • Viral activity grade of the disease (greater or equal to A2)
  • Genotype 3 (one of the genetic variations and stains of hepatitis C)
  • Body mass index (BMI) greater than 27 kg/m2
  • High blood sugar levels or diabetes
  • HCV RNA load in the blood (associated with a worse outcome of disease) or alcohol intake (greater than 30 g/day)

The bottom line?
Steatosis is important because a build up of fat in the liver worsens liver damage and makes CHC harder to treat.

The authors concluded that daily cannabis smoking is a “predictor of steatosis severity during CHC.” And they recommend that “cannabis use should be discouraged in patients with CHC.”

Among the 6 predictors of steatosis reported in this study, marijuana use is a comparatively easy risk factor to modify and thereby reduce the severity of this disease.

7/6/08 11:05 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.