A new study has found that hospitalized patients that tested positive for cannabis had reduced risk of adverse health conditions, including mortality.
Marijuana use by hospitalized patients is associated with a reduced risk of heart failure, cardiac disease, and in-hospital mortality, according to a new study published online ahead of print in Cancer Medicine.
In a multivariable adjusted analysis, researchers from the University of Northern Colorado, Colorado State University, and the University of Alabama examined the relationship between cannabis use and health outcomes among a nationwide of sample of approximately 3.9 million hospitalized patients between 2007 and 2011. Of the total number of hospitalized patients examined, 387,608 were current marijuana users. The hospitalized subjects included those diagnosed with cancer.
The researchers, led by cancer epidemiologist Neomi Vin-Raviv, PhD, MPH, found that patients that tested positive for marijuana were at a lower risk of heart failure and cardiac disease. While cannabis-using patients were more likely than non-users to be hospitalized for stroke, the survival rates for active cannabis users were significantly higher.
“The odds of in-hospital mortality were significantly reduced among marijuana users compared with non-users overall, and among cancer patients,” the study’s discussion reads.
Earlier this year, a team of researchers from the University of Colorado presented data demonstrating that heart attack patients with a history of cannabis use were less likely to die during hospitalization at the 2016 American College of Cardiology meeting
Previous studies have found that administering cannabinoids, chemical compounds found in cannabis, to humans shortly after a stroke was effective for reducing infarct volume and improving the outcome of brain function. Another found that cannabidiol (CBD), one of cannabis’ primary cannabinoids, to effectively reduce infarct size and reduce inflammation following a heart attack. Marijuana use has also been linked to a reduced risk of dying following a traumatic brain injury.
The researchers were hesitant to conclude that the reduced mortality risk was associated directly with cannabis use, and even suggested that the results could be related to advancements in medical care or a lack of use of more serious drugs. They did, however, acknowledge that was impossible to rule out the possibility “that marijuana use reduces the risk of adverse health conditions.”
“Larger prospective studies with objective measures of marijuana use and health outcomes will be needed to better examine these associations,” read the study’s conclusion. “Nevertheless, these findings provide information suggesting that marijuana use is negatively associated with certain health outcomes that may be important for older, sicker population groups.”
Twenty-eight U.S. states have so far passed medical marijuana laws, and nearly all of them have approved cannabis specifically for the treatment of cancer. Cannabis is commonly recommended by physicians to help cancer patients manage their pain and nausea. Studies have also found cannabis to have anti-cancer properties.
You can read Vin-Raviv’s entire study, Marijuana use and inpatient outcomes among hospitalized patients: analysis of the nationwide inpatient sample database,” here.