December 21, 2012

Weed Associated with Lower Diabetes Risk


weedThe British Medical Journal conducted a study to determine the association between diabetes and marijuana use.  Surprisingly, it’s a sobering reveal for a practice that has been typically considered half-baked.

Data was analyzed from surveys gathered between 1988 and 1994. Research was conducted on over 10,000 US adults. The researchers considered diabetes to be present if it was self-reported or abnormal glucose levels were present.

The study included 4 groups of people: 61% non-marijuana users, 31% former users, 5% light users (one to four times per month) or, 3% heavy users (more than five times per month) or current users.

Lifestyle factors such as BMI, smoking, and alcohol use were evaluated. Also blood tests such as cholesterol, blood fats, vitamin D, HbA1c, and fasting glucose were measured. One of the blood tests measured CRP, which is an inflammatory marker related to marijuana use.

Marijuana users had a lower incidence of diabetes compared to non-marijuana users. The CRP level was significantly higher among non-marijuana users than it was compared to marijuana users. In fact, past marijuana and current light users were lower than non-users. Most surprisingly was that  heavy users had the lowest CRP of all.

Marijuana use was independently associated with a lower prevalence of diabetes. Of course, researchers feel that further studies are needed to show a direct effect of marijuana on diabetes. A follow-up study should measure CRP in the heavy pot smokers after a pause in the habit. If CRP is raised, it’s a good indicator that marijuana use is one way to lower the risk of diabetes.

CRP is undeniably an accurate biomarker for diabetes. The legalization of marijuana is in the hands of states, rather than a federal mandate. An episode of 60 Minutes explored the paradox of state legalized cannabis  for the purpose of medicinal uses but the disapproval of the federal government isn’t making for high times.

Research evaluating the effect of marijuana use and islet function was insignificant.  An active component of marijuana is THC. THC acts upon specific sites in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors. Chronic activation of cannabinoid receptiors does not compromise islet function. In combination with the aforementioned study that marijuana use may lower the risk of diabetes, this study says it clearly doesn’t hurt islets.

What medical conditions authorize use of marijuana in 17 states? Glaucoma, the effects of chemotherapy, and chronic pain relief. Considering that in the near future 1 in 4 Americans will be at high contention for developing diabetes, legalizing the use of marijuana to deter an ultimate diagnosis could be worth the gains.

Visit Your Diabetes Health for more resources about health.