Study Finds Marijuana Use May Lead to Pre-Diabetes

As more research is conducted on the health effects of marijuana, the more evidence there is that the substance has a multitude of beneficial properties. For example, one study found that marijuana use if often associated with having a lower BMI than non-marijuana users. However, no substance is ever completely safe, including marijuana.

According to a recent study published in the journal Diabetologia, heavy marijuana use may raise a person’s risk of developing pre-diabetes.

Using data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, researchers examined over 3,000 black and white adults between the ages of 32 and 50, living in the cities of Birmingham, Ala.; Chicago, Ill.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Oakland, Calif.

“We tried to capture … marijuana use in young adulthood, when you would assume it would be the highest,” lead researcher, Michael P. Bancks, told Medscape.

Participants were studied for a period of approximately three decades, between the years 1985 and 2015, using an annual phone survey. The participants were also subject to a follow-up examination at 2, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years after enrollment.

During each examination, researchers would ask participants to fill out a detailed questionnaire covering various health and lifestyle questions.

Researchers found that individuals who reported current marijuana use faced a 65 percent increased risk of developing pre-diabetes. Those that used marijuana 100 times or more in their lifetime were found to have a 49 percent increased risked of pre-diabetes.

Paradoxically, however, researchers did not find a link between marijuana use and actually developing type-2 diabetes.

In fact, researchers point out that a recent meta-analysis of eight independent replications from both the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health found a negative association between marijuana use and the development of diabetes.

Even stranger, marijuana users were found to have a lower BMI than non-users and reported living a more active lifestyle and eating healthier than marijuana non-users.

So what does this mean for marijuana’s effect on health? The answer is not quite clear.

In some capacity, it seems like marijuana may affect a person’s ability to regulate blood-sugar levels, but how or why is still unknown. Although researchers made several speculations as to why marijuana use may lead to pre-diabetes without developing diabetes itself, they were ultimately unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion.

“These results contrast with previous findings on marijuana use and metabolic health,” wrote researchers. “Future studies should aim to objectively measure the mode and quantity of marijuana use in relation to prospective metabolic health.”

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