Regular marijuana use can reduce the risk of developing diabetes, according to new research published in the American Journal of Medicine.
The study shows that marijuana users have better blood sugar control, lower levels of insulin and much thinner waistlines than non-users. All that despite the munchies.
Researchers at the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston looked at data from 2005 to 2010 from the National Health and Nutrition Survey. In all, they studied 4,657 people: 579 current marijuana users, 1,975 past marijuana users, and 2,103 people who had never once tried ganja.
Researchers then looked at their fasting insulin levels, or the rate at which our bodies produce insulin when we aren’t eating. Lower levels of insulin indicate better sugar regulation between meals and ganja smokers had as much as a 16 percent lower insulin level than the never-have-toked group.
The effects of cannabis in regulating insulin aren’t long lasting, the scientists say. Only people who have lit up in the last few months saw the decreased insulin production levels.
Joseph Alpert, editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Medicine, told the UK Daily Mail that the science behind the research is surprisingly simple but that the outcome is one that should be closely examined for future treatments.
“These are remarkable observations that are supported, as the authors note, by basic science experiments that came to similar conclusions,” he said. “We desperately need a great deal more basic and clinical research into the short- and long-term effects of marijuana in a variety of clinical settings such as cancer, diabetes, and frailty of the elderly.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million Americans – about 8 percent of the population – has diabetes with only 18.8 million people having been diagnosed with the condition by a doctor. It contributes to more than a quarter-million deaths each year in the U.S. alone and costs the nation more than $245 billion in healthcare.