Pot Smoking Has Little Lasting Metabolic Effect

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By: Brenda Neugent

While marijuana use may spark an increased appetite for everything from chips to dubious leftover takeout, it has little effect on overall metabolism, according to a new study that appeared recently in the American Diabetes Association journal Diabetes Care.

The study, led by Dr. Monica C. Skarulis of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues, looked at 30 habitual marijuana smokers along with a control group that featured 30 non-smokers with a similar body mass index and glucose tolerance to establish cause and effect.

Although the marijuana users in the study had high levels of visceral fat and insulin resistance in fatty tissue, these abnormalities had little impact on the overall metabolism of glucose or lipids, researchers found.

The study found that while the marijuana smokers had more body fat than their non-smoking peers, they did not have heavier accumulations of hepatic fat, or fat in the liver.

Nor were there differences in glucose intolerance, dyslipidemia, or insulin insensitivity, the researchers reported.

“In healthy young individuals, chronic cannabis smoking was associated with visceral adiposity and adipose tissue insulin resistance but not with hepatic steatosis, insulin insensitivity, impaired pancreatic beta-cell function, or glucose intolerance,” they concluded.

An estimated 17 million Americans are regular marijuana users.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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