This month, the world of science issued some very good news for anyone with a more-than-social drinking habit. A recent study, published in the journal "Liver International," suggests that alcoholics who regularly use marijuana have a significantly lower rate of liver disease than those who abstain.

Raise those glasses and spark up a fatty, ladies and gents — this calls for a celebration.

Liver disease killed about 19,400 Americans in 2014, and since then (according to the CDC) the death rates for chronic liver disease have been on the rise. It is a chronic illness. Livers everywhere are under siege, drowning in alcohol and slugging through barrages of cocktails, beers, and mixed drinks. Because of happy hours worldwide, the organ works overtime to keep people functioning despite the often-copious quantities of drink being dumped into them.

Without them, alcohol would be fatally poisonous to human beings.

Needless to say, livers are extremely important. And keeping them happy and healthy is essential for anyone who enjoys a nightly drink or two or three or six or whatever. But maintaining a healthy liver can prove terminally difficult for alcoholics, who push their livers to the brink of function on a regular basis.

Luckily, though, the news highlights a potential new ally in the fight for healthy livers.

Scientists, analyzing patient data from around the U.S., recently discovered a hopeful correlation among patients who had a history of alcohol abuse and who also regularly used marijuana.

“Our study revealed that among alcohol users, individuals who additionally use cannabis… showed significantly lower odds of developing AS, AH, AC and HCC,” the study says.

AS (alcoholic steatosis), AH (steatohepatitis), AC (cirrhosis), and HCC (hepatocellular carcinoma) are four of the main contributors to liver disease.

The study concludes: “Our findings, suggest that cannabis use is associated with a reduced incidence of liver disease in alcoholics.”

The authors of the study hypothesize that the anti-inflammatory characteristics of cannabis help to reduce inflammation of the liver and thereby reduce long-term damage. But they haven’t yet proved that. Their findings merely point out the connection between cannabis use and healthier livers in alcoholics.

There is a lot of science still to be done.

So, it may yet be a while before you can go ask your physician for a medical marijuana license to treat your alcohol addiction. But in the meantime, for any heavy drinkers out there whose livers could use a little extra help, perhaps a little bit of self-medication is in order.

Better safe than sorry, right?

[originally published February 13, 2018]