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Middle-Aged Marijuana Users May Have Poor Blood Glucose Control

Research was recently published inDiabetologia evaluating the link between marijuana use and diabetes onset. More specifically, the study was aimed to assess the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between self-reported marijuana use, prediabetes and diabetes.

Prevalence of marijuana use in the middle-aged population has grown since 2002, but little is known about the impact of marijuana use on metabolic health. Previous studies have shown mixed results with some claiming it reduces the risk of diabetes and others claiming it is associated with an increased calorie consumption.

In the study, the researchers investigated the association between self-reported marijuana use, prediabetes incidence and diagnosed type 2 diabetes. Considerations were made for quantity used, status of current use, BMI and waist circumference, age, gender and race.

Data was pooled from the community-based CARDIA study and individuals were ages 18-30 at the time of study recruitment in 1985-1986. In fact, these patients are in their 30th year of observation, but this study looked at 3,034 participants and their marijuana use and whether they had developed prediabetes or type 2 diabetes by year 25.

After adjustments, there was a 65% increased risk of prediabetes in individuals still reporting current use of marijuana and a 49% increased risk for those who reported use of 100 times or more. No significant association could be found between marijuana use and diagnosis of type 2 diabetes by year 25.

The authors were baffled by how marijuana could place patients at a significant risk of prediabetes, but not find this risk for diabetes. Many patients were excluded for having missing information and perhaps that made an impact. Further studies may objectively measure quantity used and prospective metabolic health.

Practice Pearls:

  • With the use of marijuana growing in the middle-aged population, researchers sought to explore the associations of marijuana use with prediabetes and diabetes. Current research in this area is quite mixed and limited.
  • The researchers did find a significant association of current marijuana use and marijuana use of 100 times or greater with incidence of prediabetes, but no such risk was found for diabetes.
  • Future research may consider evaluating specific measures of quantity used and be prospective in nature.

Bancks, Michael P., Mark J. Pletcher, Stefan G. Kertesz, Stephen Sidney, Jamal S. Rana, and Pamela J. Schreiner. “Marijuana Use and Risk of Prediabetes and Diabetes by Middle Adulthood: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study.” Diabetologia (2015). Web. 18 Sept. 2015.