Spotlight Series on Hepatitis C

"Ask the Experts": Does Smoking Marijuana Affect Liver Health or Hepatitis C Disease Progression?

The following is a physician-patient interaction that took place within's "Ask the Experts" forum on hepatitis.

hep c and marijuana
Mar 11, 2013

my boyfriend has completed his hep c treatments and his dr says hes all cleared.... would smoking marijuana affect his body, liver in any way?would it be okay if he were to smoke 2-3 times a day??

Response from Dr. Taylor

There is controversy about the impact of marijuana on liver disease progression in hep C.

I am concerned about daily marijuana use based on a report such as the one below. Even after hep C is cured with treatment, scarring in the liver can remain. I am concerned about daily marijuana use as it MAY impact scarring of the liver, as well as not harmful to the lungs and brain when used daily. In my view not using marijuana at all or using once in a while is safer than daily use. I would consider what is going on with your boyfriend that makes him want or need to smoke 2-3 times daily?


Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Jan;6(1):69-75. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2007.10.021. Influence of cannabis use on severity of hepatitis C disease. Ishida JH, Peters MG, Jin C, Louie K, Tan V, Bacchetti P, Terrault NA. Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA. Abstract Complications of HCV infection are primarily related to the development of advanced fibrosis and whether cannabis use is a risk factor for more severe fibrosis is controversial. METHODS: Baseline data from a prospective cohort study of 204 persons with chronic HCV infection were used for analysis. The outcome was fibrosis score on biopsy, and the primary predictor evaluated was daily cannabis use. RESULTS: The median age of the cohort was 46.8 years, 69.1% were male, 49.0% were white, and the presumed route of infection was injection drug use in 70.1%. The median lifetime duration and average daily use of alcohol were 29.1 years and 1.94 drink equivalents per day, respectively. Cannabis use frequency (within prior 12 months) was daily in 13.7%, occasional in 45.1%, and never in 41.2%. Fibrosis stage, assessed by the Ishak method, was F0, F1-2, and F3-6 in 27.5%, 55.4%, and 17.2% of subjects, respectively. Daily compared with non-daily cannabis use was significantly associated with moderate to severe fibrosis (F3-6 vs F1-2) in univariate (odds ratio [OR], 3.21; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.20-8.56, P = .020) and multivariate analyses (OR, 6.78; 95% CI, 1.89-24.31, P = .003). Other independent predictors of F3-6 were >or=11 portal tracts (compared with <5, OR, 6.92; 95% CI, 1.34-35.7, P = .021) and lifetime duration of moderate to heavy alcohol use (OR per decade, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.02-2.90, P = .044).

CONCLUSIONS: Daily cannabis use is strongly associated with moderate to severe fibrosis, and HCV-infected individuals should be counseled to reduce or abstain from cannabis use.

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This article was provided by TheBodyPRO.


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