Marijuana Tied To Better Blood Sugar Control

May 24, 2013

Peo­ple who had used mar­i­juana in the past month had smaller waists and lower lev­els of insulin resis­tance – a dia­betes pre­cur­sor – than those who never tried the drug, in a new study. The find­ings, based on sur­veys and blood tests of about 4,700 U.S. adults, aren’t enough to prove mar­i­juana keeps users thin or wards off dis­ease. And among cur­rent pot smok­ers, higher amounts of mar­i­juana use weren’t linked to any added health ben­e­fits, researchers reported in The Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Med­i­cine. “These are pre­lim­i­nary find­ings,” said Dr. Mur­ray Mit­tle­man, who worked on the study at Beth Israel Dea­coness Med­ical Cen­ter in Boston. “It looks like there may be some favor­able effects on blood sugar con­trol, how­ever a lot more needs to be done to have defin­i­tive answers on the risks and poten­tial ben­e­fits of mar­i­juana usage.” Although pot smok­ing is a well-known cause of “the munchies,” some pre­vi­ous stud­ies have found mar­i­juana users tend to weigh less than other peo­ple, and one sug­gested they have a lower rate of dia­betes. Tri­als in mice and rats hint that cannabis and cannabi­noid recep­tors may influ­ence metab­o­lism. The new study used data from a national health sur­vey con­ducted in 2005–2010. Researchers asked peo­ple about drug and alco­hol use, as well as other aspects of their health and lifestyle, and mea­sured their insulin and blood sugar lev­els. Just under 2,000 par­tic­i­pants said they had used mar­i­juana at some point, but not recently. Another 600 or so were cur­rent users – mean­ing they had smoked or oth­er­wise con­sumed the drug in the past month. Com­pared to peo­ple who had never used pot, cur­rent smok­ers had smaller waists: 36.9 inches ver­sus 38.3 inches, on aver­age. Cur­rent users also had a lower body mass index – a ratio of weight to height – than never-users. When other health and lifestyle mea­sures were taken into account, recent pot use was linked to 17 per­cent lower insulin resis­tance, indi­cat­ing bet­ter blood sugar con­trol, and slightly higher HDL (“good”) cho­les­terol lev­els. How­ever, there was no dif­fer­ence in blood pres­sure or blood fats based on mar­i­juana use, Mittleman’s team found. A Causal Link? Mit­tle­man said that in his mind, it’s still “pre­lim­i­nary” to say mar­i­juana is likely to be respon­si­ble for any diabetes-related health ben­e­fits. “It’s pos­si­ble that peo­ple who choose to smoke mar­i­juana have other char­ac­ter­is­tics that dif­fer (from non-marijuana smok­ers),” and those char­ac­ter­is­tics are what ulti­mately affect blood sugar and waist size, he told Reuters Health. Dr. Stephen Sid­ney from the Kaiser Per­ma­nente Divi­sion of Research in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia, said he won­ders if cig­a­rette smok­ing may par­tially explain the asso­ci­a­tion. Mar­i­juana users are also more likely to smoke tobacco, he told Reuters Health. “Peo­ple who use tobacco often­times tend to be thin­ner,” said Sid­ney, who has stud­ied mar­i­juana use and weight but didn’t par­tic­i­pate in the new study. “So I really won­der about that.” Another lim­i­ta­tion with this and other stud­ies, Sid­ney and Mit­tle­man agreed, is that all of the data were col­lected at the same time, so it’s unclear whether mar­i­juana smok­ing or changes in waist size and blood sugar came first. “The ques­tion is, is the mar­i­juana lead­ing to the lower rate (of dia­betes) or do they have some­thing in com­mon?” said Dr. Theodore Fried­man, who has stud­ied that issue at Charles R. Drew Uni­ver­sity of Med­i­cine and Sci­ence in Los Ange­les. He and his col­leagues think the link is prob­a­bly causal. “But it’s really hard to prove that,” Fried­man, who also wasn’t involved in the new research, told Reuters Health. One pos­si­bil­ity is that the anti-inflammatory prop­er­ties of mar­i­juana help ward off dia­betes, he said. But he agreed that more research is needed to draw out that link. “I want to make it clear – I’m not advo­cat­ing mar­i­juana use to pre­vent dia­betes,” Fried­man said. “It’s only an asso­ci­a­tion.” SOURCE: http://​bit​.ly/​1​0​T​y​3La — The Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Med­i­cine, online May 16, 2013. Source: Reuters (Wire) Author: Genevra Pittman Pub­lished: May 23, 2013 Copy­right: 2013 Thom­son Reuters

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Mar­i­juana Tied To Bet­ter Blood Sugar Control

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