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Marijuana Benefits HDL Cholesterol, Insulin Levels, and Waist Circumference

A new study on marijuana use has turned up some fascinating health benefits. The researchers behind this latest positive study looked at 4657 participants who had completed a drug-use questionnaire as a part of the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Survey) database between 2005 and 2010.

Of these, 579 were current users (had self-reported smoking marijuana or hashish in the past month), 1975 had smoked marijuana in the past but were not current users, and 2103 had never inhaled or ingested marijuana. Fasting insulin and glucose were measured via blood samples following a nine-hour fast, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) was calculated to evaluate insulin resistance.

Compared with those who had never used cannabis, current users had 16% lower levels of fasting insulin, 17% lower HOMA-IR, 1.63-mg/dL higher HDL-cholesterol levels, and lower (smaller) waist circumferences. The results were no different when participants with diabetes mellitus were excluded from the analysis.

Importantly, the best results were seen in current users of cannabis.

This study adds weight to previous epidemiologic studies that also found lower rates of obesity and diabetes in marijuana users compared with people who have never used marijuana. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, and biochemically, this is similar to a study that I covered on krill oil, which was shown to act on the endocannabinoid system (which influences appetite and mood).

So have a great long weekend, "Canada-bis!"

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Source: The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults

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  1. weird. all I know from experience is that smoking weed makes you extremely ravenous, so I don't know how that can contribute to a smaller waist. this study is flawed. :-)

  2. I would like to know the ages of the users vs,the non users? Is it possible that most of the users were younger then the non users and had faster metabolisms? That would totally skew this study in favor of marijuana use.Also I would like to know who's pocket book funded the study and if their money is some how tied up in the whole marijuana industry that is booming!

    1. That's a possibility. It looks like the youngest group (20-29 y/o) had the highest percentage of "current users" while the oldest group (45-59 y/o) had the smallest percentage of current users. However, the youngest group was the smallest in number and the oldest was the largest in number...so that may negate some of the age effect. Further, the analysis was adjusted for numerous variables, age being one that was specifically controlled and adjusted for. Also note that this wasn't the first study to show these results regarding the benefits to waist circumference..but the researchers wanted to look at why, thinking that there may have been a positive benefit on blood glucose/insulin, which they found.

      Is this the mechanism behind the slimming effects? This is just one study, and the insulin and blood sugar benefits should been seen in at least one other study before we give real consideration to these results. We must also recognize that a smaller waist is multifactorial, so the insulin and blood glucose benefits are likely only one of many different reasons why they found these results.

      Lastly, while I don't trust authors of research papers to accurately disclose funding and conflicts of interest, these authors claim they recieved no funding and reported no conflicts of interest.


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