A new study has shown that those who use marijuana are more vulnerable to developing prediabetes. What this means is that their blood sugar levels go up significantly.
US researchers say that people who used to consume a large amount of marijuana back when they were young adults increase their chances of developing prediabetes when they are middle age adults by 40 percent (40%), compared to people who never used the drug.
It’s worth mentioning that the researchers could not link marijuana use to the development of type 2 diabetes, an even more serious metabolic condition that often evolves from prediabetes.
Michael Bancks, lead author and Ph.D. student from the University of Minnesota, gave a statement to Live Science explaining that earlier studies concluded that people who use marijuana seem to have a lower rate of diabetes than the people who never used the drug.
The problem that he noticed was that those studies were not clear on whether subjects first started using the drug, then developed diabetes, or whether they first developed diabetes, then started using the drug.
Ph.D. Bancks said that he and his colleagues “felt we could address the potential limitations of previous research and add new information to our understanding of the relationship between marijuana use and subsequent metabolic health”.
The results were that the findings of the new study contradicted the findings of earlier studies. But there was one question that the researchers could not answer – “it’s unclear how marijuana use could place an individual at increased risk for prediabetes, yet not diabetes”.
This does not mean that they don’t have a few working theories. One of them is that the people who were more vulnerable to developing type 2 diabetes were simply not included in the study. This is because participating subjects had to be free of the metabolic condition when the follow-up period started.
Another possible explanation is that marijuana may only have an impact on the blood sugar levels in the range of prediabetes, and not on the blood sugar levels in the range of type 2 diabetes.
Ph.D. Bancks admitted that more research is needed in order to gain a better understanding of what’s happening. He believes future studies should focus on how different groups of people consume marijuana and how much of the drug each of these different groups consumes.
One thing’s for sure – marijuana does make people more vulnerable to developing prediabetes. This has led the lead author to advice health professionals to talk to their patients about the potential risks of the drug. He believes that people should know marijuana increases their chances of developing prediabetes before they start using it.
He also said that health professionals should keep an eye on the blood sugar levels of people who have “an extensive history of marijuana use”.
The timing of the study is not coincidental as marijuana use has been on the rise in recent years and researchers have a lot of questions about what effects this practice has on a person’s health. For instance, a 2014 study concluded that the drug makes people vulnerable to experiencing either cognitive impairment or psychoses.
The findings were published a few days ago, on Sunday (September 13, 2015), in the medical journal Diabetologia.
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