Marijuana Blood Sugar: Can Pot Help Curb Diabetes?

Friday, 24 May 2013 07:43 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Can marijuana use lower one's risk of developing diabetes through controlling blood sugar levels? The answer is yes, according to a recently released study published in the American Journal of Medicine.

The research, which was conducted between 2005 and 2010 and included more than 4,600 men and women in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, found that compounds in cannabis could help to control blood sugar levels.

Despite its reputation for increasing one's appetite, three prior studies have also shown that pot use often leads to a reduced chance of becoming obese, resulting in a lower body-mass-index and less of a chance of developing diabetes, notes Time.

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So how do marijuana users who tend to consume more calories manage to lose weight?
The answer is their tendency to have an increased carbohydrate metabolism and their being less resistant to insulin produced by the body, explained Murray Mittleman, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study.

"The most important finding is that current users of marijuana appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than nonusers," said Mittleman. "Their fasting insulin levels were lower, and they appeared to be less resistant to the insulin produced by their body to maintain a normal blood-sugar level."

Of the more than 4,600 men and women who took part in the research, 48 percent had smoked cannabis at least once in their lives while 12 percent were current pot smokers.
Those who were currently smoking marijuana exhibited fasting insulin levels 16 percent lower than participants who had never used the drug or used it earlier in their life.

Current cannabis smokers also saw a 17 percent reduction in another measure of insulin resistance as well, the study found.

High levels of insulin resistance often result in obesity and are linked to Type II diabetes.
Cigarette smokers included in the research also had smaller waistlines the study found.

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Researchers were quick to point out that there could be other factors tied to the marijuana user's lifestyle choices aside from the cannabis compounds that account for the user's thinner frames which were not accounted for in the research.

Researchers warn that though marijuana in moderation, much-like alcohol in moderation, could have health benefits, still more research has to be conducted before people start turning in their gym membership for a bong.

Related stories:

Illinois Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

Democrats Seek to Create Commission on Marijuana Policy

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