People with hepatitis C virus (HCV) who have been hospitalized have more favorable health outcomes if they use marijuana, Specialty Pharmacy Times reports.

Publishing their findings in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 900,000 people with hep C. They referred to data on individuals hospitalized between 2007 and 2014 in the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample.

The study authors assembled two cohorts matched by demographics and other health conditions in addition to HCV, including 4,728 people who used cannabis and 4,728 who did not.

Those who used cannabis had lower rates of liver cirrhosis and related health complications, fewer negative health conditions when discharged from the hospital and lower overall health care costs. Cannabis use was not associated with differences in the rate of hepatitis C virus (HCV), death while in the hospital or the length of stay.

Compared with nonusers, cannabis users who were not dependent on the substance were 15 percent less likely to have cirrhosis while those who were dependent were 48 percent less likely. The dependent users were 38 percent less likely than the nondependent users to have cirrhosis.

The study authors speculated that cannabis may have directly toxic effects on cells that give rise to liver fibrosis and that the substance may also reduce nausea and in turn improve adherence to HCV medications. (The study period overlapped with the end of the interferon era of hep C treatment, during which nausea was a pervasive problem among those seeking to cure the virus with this drug.)

To read the Specialty Pharmacy Times article, click here.

To read the study, click here.