Marijuana Users 50 Percent Less Likely To Suffer From Metabolic Syndrome

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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Marijuana users are far less likely to have metabolic syndrome than their more abstemious peers, according to research published in The American Journal of Medicine.

Metabolic syndrome, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a group of different conditions including increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that cluster together in one patient.

Those suffering from metabolic syndrome increase their risk of heart disease, strokes and diabetes. Drawing on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Data from 2005 to 2010 using 8,500 20- to 59-year-olds, the study found that pot users were 50 percent less likely to have metabolic syndrome than non-pot users.

This means marijuana users have far less of a chance of developing the wide range of health problems associated with metabolic syndrome. The researchers from the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine split the respondents into three groups – those who had never used marijuana, ex-marijuana users, and current marijuana users.

Those with no history of cannabis use recorded the highest rate of metabolic syndrome at 19.5 percent, with former users coming in second at 17.5 percent. Current cannabis users were way behind with just 13.5 percent fitting the requirements to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

“These findings have important implications for the nation as marijuana use becomes more accepted and we simultaneously face multiple epidemics of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” the research team wrote in their conclusion. But they added that “future studies should examine the biological pathways of this relationship.”

The relationship between marijuana use and obesity has been of keen interest to the medical community for some time. A study released in the Journal of Obesity back in August sparked a flurry of media comment after finding that cannabis use was associated with a lower weight range and lower risk of diabetes.

Researchers from the Conference of Quebec University Health Centers found that after controlling for the effects of gender and age the body mass index for cannabis users was 26.8 compared to 28.6 for non-users. The group that scored the lowest BMI were those who were cannabis users who had never used tobacco or had quit tobacco.

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