Cannabis connoisseurs are far less likely to develop metabolic syndrome than people who have never used the plant, according to a new study published in The American Journal of Medicine. Researchers from the University of Miami School of Medicine found that current cannabis users are about 50 percent less likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those who have never used marijuana.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions, including elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the abdomen and unhealthy cholesterol levels. Those suffering from metabolic syndrome have an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes or strokes, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The researchers conducted an analysis of about 8,500 people, ages 20 to 59 years old who completed the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, and classified individuals into three groups: those who have never used marijuana, those who have used marijuana in the past and current marijuana users.
Researchers found that 19.5 percent of participants who had never used marijuana could be considered to have metabolic syndrome, while the same was true for 17.5 percent of former users and only 13.8 of current users. The study defined metabolic syndrome as having more than three of the following symptoms: elevated fasting glucose, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, elevated systolic/diastolic blood pressure and increased waist circumference.
Current marijuana users had much lower average fasting glucose levels, which is how blood sugar levels are determined, and waist circumference was also significantly lower among men who currently used marijuana when compared to those who had never used, reports Medical Daily.
"Among emerging adults, current marijuana users were 54 percent less likely than never users to present with metabolic syndrome," the researchers said.
"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, adding that "future studies should examine the biological pathways of this relationship," reports The Daily Caller.
Another study published in August, in the Journal of Obesity, found similar results. After controlling for the effects of gender and age, researchers from the Conference of Quebec University Health Centers found the body mass index for marijuana users was 26.8 compared to 28.6 for non-users. They also found that marijuana users had a lower chance of developing diabetes.