It’s known that patients with hepatitis C have an increased risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes. It’s also been observed that cannabis seems to have the potential for preventing diabetes and related metabolic disorders in the general population.
So for this new study, published in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis, researchers, from several French academic institutions, looked at whether cannabis use is associated with a lower risk of diabetes in chronic hepatitis C infected patients.
For the analysis, nearly 10,500 people with hepatitis C were selected from the French national multicenter observational ANRS CO22 Hepather cohort, whose overarching purpose is to assess therapeutic options for hepatitis B and C.
The results showed that the subjects who claimed to use cannabis were half, or 49 percent, as likely to have diabetes as those who were not regular users. Even those who were not currently using cannabis, but had done so in the past, had a reduced risk of diabetes compared to those who had never used it. However, the strongest correlation was with those who self-identified as regular users of cannabis.
As this was an observational study, it could only find associations, not cause and effect. There are also some factors that could lead to a higher risk of diabetes for hepatitis C positive people, which include gender, tobacco use, homelessness, fibrosis, poverty, and increased BMI.
That said, the authors concluded that “the association between cannabis use and diabetes was maintained in the stratified analysis,” adding that “in this large cross-sectional study of chronic [hepatitis-C]-infected patients, cannabis use was associated with a lower risk of diabetes independently of clinical and socio-behavioral factors”.
Previous research in Clinical Infectious Diseases in 2015 found similar to this study, showing a lower risk of insulin resistance in people with Hepatitis C who used cannabis. The growing research in this area might pave the way for more cannabis-based medicines for those hoping to avoid developing the condition.