Diabetes MellitusMarijuana (Cannabinoids)

Lower fasting blood sugar levels associated with marijuana use

Marijuana1-150x150This study has been picked up by just about every news organization — far different from recent study results on adverse effects of marijuana.

Since this site is fair and balance, here are the results from University of Nebraska College of Medicine, Omaha, on the relationship between marijuana use and fasting insulin, glucose, and insulin resistance.

First, the details.

  • 4657 adult men and women from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were studied.
    • 579 were current marijuana users and 1975 were past users.
  • Marijuana use was assessed by a self-report.
  • Fasting insulin and glucose were measured from blood samples after a 9-hour fast, and insulin resistance was calculated.
  • Associations were adjusted for potential confounding factors.

And, the results.

  • Current marijuana use was associated with 16% lower fasting insulin levels and 17% lower insulin resistance.
  • There was a significant association between marijuana use and smaller waist circumferences.
  • Among current users, there was no significant dose-response relationship.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “We found that marijuana use was associated with lower levels of fasting insulin and HOMA-IR [insulin resistance], and smaller waist circumference.”

These results support earlier studies in mice.

Participants who reported using marijuana in the past month had lower levels of fasting insulin and insulin resistance, as well as smaller waist circumference and higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. These associations were attenuated among those who reported using marijuana at least once, but not in the past 30 days, suggesting that the impact of marijuana use on insulin and insulin resistance exists during periods of recent use.

Whether any of this has a significant impact on the risk of actually developing diabetes remains to be studied. Ultimately, we are interested in a reduction in diabetes, not just in the factors associated with it.

5/18/13 9:43 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.