Study: Cannabis Associated With Lower Diabetes Risk

Adults with a history of marijuana use have a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes and possess a lower risk of contracting the disease than those with no history of cannabis consumption, according to clinical trial data published in the British Medical Journal.

Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles assessed the association between diabetes mellitus (DM) and marijuana use among adults aged 20 to 59 in a nationally representative sample of the US population of 10,896 adults. The study included four groups: non-marijuana users (61.0%), past marijuana users (30.7%), light (one to four times/month) (5.0%) and heavy (more than five times/month) current marijuana users (3.3%). Diabetes was defined based on self-report or abnormal glycaemic parameters.

Researchers hypothesized that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes would be reduced in marijuana users because of the presence of various cannabinoids that possess immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties.

Investigators reported that past and present cannabis consumers possessed a lower prevalence of adult onset diabetes, even after authors adjusted for social variables (ethnicity, level of physical activity, etc.), despite all groups possessing a similar family history of DM. Researchers did not find an association between cannabis use and other chronic diseases, including hypertension, stroke, myocradial infarction, or heart failure compared to nonusers.

Past and current cannabis users did report engaging in more frequent physical activity than nonusers, but also possessed higher overall levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides. By contrast, the highest prevalence of marijuana consumers were found among those with the lowest glucose levels.

Investigators concluded, “Our analysis of adults aged 20-59 years … Showed that participants who used marijuana had a lower prevalence of DM and lower odds of DM relative to non-marijuana users.” They caution, however: “Prospective studies in rodents and humans are needed to determine a potential causal relationship between cannabinoid receptor activation and DM. Until those studies are performed, we do not advocate the use of marijuana in patients at risk for DM.”

Previous studies in animals have indicated that certain cannabinoids possess anti-diabetic properties. In particular, a preclinical trial published in the journal Autoimmunity reported that injections of 5 mg per day of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD significantly reduced the incidence of diabetes in mice compared to placebo. Investigators reported that control mice all developed adult onset diabetes at a median of 17 weeks (range 15-20 weeks), while a majority (60 percent) of CBD-treated mice remained diabetes-free at 26 weeks.

Full text of the study, “Decreased prevalence of diabetes in marijuana users: cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III,” appears online here.

23 thoughts

  1. As someone who’s been type 1 diabetic for 11 years the last 6 on insulin (the first 5+ undiagnosed) let me say yes and its good for retinopathy too. I’m living proof as I went for 5+ years inhaling sugar daily while having low to no insulin in my body yet a year after diagnosis and insulin I had a retina specialist tell me I had non-proliferative retinopathy meaning earliest stage and that I didn’t need corrective laser surgery but just to come in for a yearly check. He also said “I don’t know what you’re doing but whatever you’re doing keep on doing it”. I had a family friend Dr. who asked me once if I smoked which I laughed and said yes all the time and he said “That’s good and you should because it’s good for your diabetes”. That’s coming from a foot Dr. at that.

  2. When I read this yesterday it gave me a heck of a case of munchies.

    By the way. Cinnamon 2000 mg twuce a day for diabetes and colesterol a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water 2-3 times a day. I no longer take Zocor

  3. Next study: does cannabis use help persons quit or avoid alcohol abuse often cited as contributory to diabetes?

  4. Oakland cites surprise medical pot backer
    Bob Egelko
    Updated 10:41 pm, Wednesday, December 12, 2012

    “In papers filed late Tuesday with the magistrate who is considering the fate of the Harborside Health Center, lawyers for Oakland said patent and research records reveal that ‘the government believes in the medical efficacy of cannabis’ – contrary to the Justice Department’s insistence that marijuana is a dangerous drug with no legitimate use.

    Cedric Chao, a lawyer for the city, cited a 2003 patent application by the U.S. government that said cannabis compounds are ‘useful in the treatment and prophylaxis (prevention) of a wide variety of oxidation-associated diseases,’ including certain types of strokes and immune-system disorders.

    Chao quoted another patent application, by two government scientists in 2009, that referred to the ‘healing properties of Cannabis sativa,’ or marijuana, that have been ‘known throughout documented history.’

    ‘How can the government credibly deny the benefits of medical cannabis when the government itself is funding cutting-edge research proving the medical benefits of cannabis and seeking patents based on such research?’ Chao wrote.”

    So tell me again how the DEA can argue, in front of the DC Court of Appeals, that marijuana has no medical benefits? It’s obvious that their schedule decision was arbitrary and capricious. And that they lied to the court.

  5. See, for years we been telling folks that Cannabis does have some medical value and what happened? We get laughed at and shamed upon. Now that we have 2 states that legalized Cannabis, there will be more exciting findings on Cannabis in the near future. I have the last saying to those who supported the prohibition, I TOLD YOU SO !!!!

  6. Weed is non-toxic, can’t kill you, lowers your risk of diabetes, cures cancers, and it is still “Schedule I – dangerous, no medical value”. Land of the free, home of the brave. What a joke!

  7. We got to keep building all these truths together. Natural medicine ( I don’t know what you’re doing but whatever it is keep it up – from my Doctor ) must take it’s place in “medicine” as we know it today. The more aware we can make the general public to the Scams of Big Pharma the AMA and their ilk the better for the planet we occupy.

  8. @Maxweed Abuse is usually a misused word. However to your queerie: I personally would chose being stoned to being drunk. I’m an average sort of guy. So I’ll stick my neck out and go for the yes I think if the person was looking for and end to their alcoholism being stoned is an option. And as you can see various “cures” follow suite. Some daresay even unknown. Puffpuffpass.

  9. @Dustin

    I signed the petition, because it contained the line, “Prohibition failed with Adam and Eve.”

  10. >mexweed

    I totally agree. Cannabis users tend to use less alcohol – the study could be calibrated by comparing the test group with a group of non- cannabis users with similar diets, level of exercise and alcohol intake. I bet the alcohol is making the difference

  11. I’m truly surprised. Whenever I enjoy the herb, I eat enough cheetos and hohos to stuff the entire passenger cabin of a mini cooper. I thought for sure it was increasing my risk of diabetes. It must be some powerful medicine to overcome the extra junk food consumed immediately after its use.

  12. @mexweed and those who have responded to him.

    I lived with an alcoholic for two years. I mean the need a drink just to be able to function kind of alcoholic. He also smoked seven or eight joints a day. It did not stop him in any way from seeking out more alcohol.

    I, too drink heavily at the time, largely in response to him, but cannabis did not make me wish to drink or not wish to drink.

    So, no, I do not think it can be used to help end an alcoholic’s abuse. However, I do believe that many who would become alcoholics might not if cannabis were a legal alternative.

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