People who use marijuana are about half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes, according to a new meta-analysis of scientific studies.
Researchers at the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran published the study in the journal Phytotherapy Research this month, expanding on the scientific literature examining the effects of cannabis on glucose regulation and insulin secretion that are tied to the chronic disease.
To investigate the relationship, the researchers analyzed 11 relevant surveys and four epidemiological cohort studies that were published in scientific databases such as PubMed up through July 1, 2022.
They found that the incidence of type 2 diabetes among people who consume marijuana “was 0.48 times lower than in those without cannabis exposure.”
“A protective effect of cannabis consumption on the odds of diabetes mellitus type 2 development has been suggested,” the paper says. “Yet given the considerable interstudy heterogeneity, the upward trend of cannabis consumption and cannabis legalization is recommended to conduct studies with higher levels of evidence.”
Prior studies have similarly linked marijuana to lower rates of type 2 diabetes, which is the version of the disease where patients produce low amounts of insulin and can become resistant to the hormone.
While researchers have urged additional research to clearly define the mechanism through which cannabis appears to have this effect, it’s known that compounds in marijuana bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating various bodily functions, including insulin secretion.
“Cannabis consumption exerts multiple effects on metabolism via various pathways, including glucose regulation and insulin secretion,” the new study says. “Studies concerning the association between cannabis use and diabetes mellitus type 2 are discrepant.”
A study published in 2012 similarly found that cannabis consumption is associated with a 58 percent reduction in the risk of developing diabetes. But research is mixed, with some studies showing no correlation between marijuana use and the likelihood of having the health condition.
Meanwhile, research published in the International Journal of Drug Policy this month found that states that have legalized medical cannabis experienced significant reductions in health insurance premiums compared to states where cannabis remained completely illegal.
Scientists have also showed that adult-use marijuana legalization is associated with decreased levels of obesity despite the fact that cannabis is well-known appetite stimulator.
A 2018 study concluded that the average marijuana consumer actually has a slimmer waistline compared to non-users.
In a separate stereotype-busting study that was published in 2021, researchers found that frequent marijuana consumers are actually more likely to be physically active compared to their non-using counterparts.
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