A new study has found that symptoms of acute alcoholic pancreatitis are less severe in those with a history of cannabis use.
Acute alcoholic pancreatitis (AAP) patients that have a history of cannabis use experience less severe symptoms compared to non-users, according to a new study published in the journal Translational Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Acute alcohol-related pancreatitis are acute bouts of abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting that occur in those with progressive and irreversible damage to the pancreas gland caused by prolonged hazardous drinking. Acute episodes are often precipitated by an increase in alcohol intake. In more severe cases, the condition can cause profound metabolic abnormalities and circulatory collapse.
In the new study, researchers from the Mercer School of Medicine retrospectively examined the severity of acute alcoholic pancreatitis in patients at the time they were admitted into the tertiary care teaching hospital, The Medical Center in Macon, Georgia, between January 2006 and December 2015.
To measure severity of pancreatitis, the researchers assessed blood urea nitrogen, bedside index for severity in acute pancreatitis (BISAP) score, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), and Balthazar computed tomography (CT) scan grade.
Of the 116 total patients analyzed, the researchers identified 38 with a history of cannabis use, and 76 that tested negative for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The patients were then matched for sex and age.
The researchers found that the patients that had tested positive for cannabis experienced less severe manifestations of acute alcoholic pancreatitis and were less likely to need to be placed in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) compared to those that had tested negative for the substance.
“We found that cannabis positive patients had less severe presentation of AAP indicating that cannabis could modulate the inflammatory effects of alcohol on the pancreas,” the researchers concluded.