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Marijuana-blood sugar study shows potential health benefits for users

Posted By CAROLINE LEE, UPI.com   |   May 23, 2013 at 5:23 PM   |   Comments

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May 23 (UPI) -- A study by the National Health and Nutrition Surveyfound that marijuana use is linked to smaller waists, better blood sugar control and insulin resistance.

Researchers based in Boston compared five years' worth of data from 579 marijuana users and thousands of non-users, LA Weekly reported.

The results come from a comparison of insulin and glucose levels in both groups. Participants that had used pot in the last month had much lower levels of fasting insulin and higher levels of so-called "good" cholesterol HDL-C -- which may mean big news for diabetics.

Researchers hypothesize that marijuana could be used to control and manage diabetics' blood sugar levels. But first, the researchers must weigh the risks and benefits to get a definitive answer on whether marijuana use alone will work.

"It's possible that people who choose to smoke marijuana have other characteristics that differ [from nonsmokers], said Murray Mittleman, one of the researchers. Another researcher noted it could also be that marijuana smokers change their habits when they are diagnosed with diabetes.

“After we excluded those subjects with a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus, the associations between marijuana use and insulin levels, HOMA-IR, waist circumference, and HDL-C were similar and remained statistically significant,” said Elizabeth Penner, another study researcher, in a press release.

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