- REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian
A new study is suggesting that cannabis consumption may help control blood sugar and help tackle obesity.
The article entitled, "The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among U.S. Adults," was published in the American Journal of Medicine and examined the effects cannabis has on blood sugar of individuals who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2010.
Of the participants 48 percent had smoked marijuana at least once in their lives and 12 percent were regular cannabis users. They were also categorized based on factors such as age, sex, income, alcohol use and physical activity.
Researchers found that those who regularly used cannabis tested for lower levels of fasting insulin, lower levels of insulin resistance as well as smaller waist size. The results also found that cannabis users had higher levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), which is known to minimize the risk of cardiovascular disease.
"The most important finding is that current users of marijuana appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than nonusers," Murray Mittleman, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study, said in a statement.
"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."
But while the results are intriguing others surmise another explanation is warranted. One specifically deals with the claim that repeated cannabis exposure shuts off certain receptors in the brain that are linked to obesity and regulation of blood sugar.
"The most likely explanation is that prolonged cannabis use causes the (receptors) to lose sensitivity and become inactive," Daniele Piomelli, a professor of pharmacology at the University of California, Irvine, who was not associated with the new research, told CNN.
"This has been shown to happen in people who smoke marijuana. This weakening of (these receptors) translates into a lower risk for obesity and diabetes because the inactive receptor would be unable to respond to our own cannabis-like molecules, which we know are important in keeping us chubby."