A new study has found that marijuana could reduce the risk for diabetes. Marijuana users take in more food calories than nonusers, but recent research has found that for some reason, marijuana users also have lower body mass index levels than nonusers.
Lower body mass index means lower risk for obesity, diabetes and various other weight-related issues. The basis of this study was to find out what effects THC has on metabolism and insulin levels.
Diabetes is usually caused by a metabolic disorder that occurs when the body's cells cannot properly absorb insulin. Researchers consulted the results of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a cross-sectional test administered to thousands of adults each year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Out of the 4,576 participants, 579 were regular marijuana users. 1,975 used the drug in the past but not recently and 2,103 had never smoked marijuana in their lives.
The regular users had 16% lower fasting insulin levels than nonusers and 17% lower insulin-resistance levels. Regular users also had smaller average waist sizes and healthier cholesterol levels as well.
"These are indeed remarkable observations that are supported by basic science experiments that came to similar conclusions," Dr. Joseph Alpert, professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, said in a statement.
To test their results, the researchers applied the same test to people who had been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.
"After we excluded those subjects with a diagnosis of diabetes the associations between marijuana use and insulin levels, [insulin resistance], waist circumference and HDL-C were similar and remained statistically significant," Dr. Elizabeth Penner, a co-author of the study, said in a statement. "Is it possible that THC will be commonly prescribed in the future for patients with diabetes or metabolic syndrome alongside antidiabetic oral agents or insulin for improved management of this chronic illness? Only time will answer this question for us," Alpert said in an editorial accompanying the article in the journal. "We desperately need a great deal more basic and clinical research into the short- and long-term effects of marijuana in a variety of clinical settings such as cancer, diabetes and frailty of the elderly," Alpert wrote.
Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana