Smoking marijuana has "remarkable" effect on diabetic problems and may lower risk of getting the disease, a study published on Wednesday states.
This news comes a few days after a presentation at the annual conference of the American Urological Association that links heavy pot use to a much lower risk of bladder cancer.
Past studies have found potential harms caused by marijuana, such as an increased risk of testicular cancer or memory impairment. The popular drug, now used legally by millions under the laws of Arizona and other states, appears to have a major upside, health-wise.
Besides the pain and suffering diabetes causes, diagnosing and treating the disease is a crushing healthcare expense in the United States, costing an estimated $245 billion last year alone. The new study published in the current issue of the American Journal of Medicine implies that one answer to the problem could be marijuana.
Of the diabetics studied who used marijuana, "insulin resistance was decreased and diabetic control was improved," wrote Joseph Alpert, editor-in-chief of the AJM and a University of Arizona professor of medicine, in his introduction to the published article. Alpert goes on to say:
Remarkably, fasting insulin levels were reduced in current cannabis users but not in former or never users. Two additional observations were that waist circumference was smaller and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol blood levels were higher in current cannabis users. These are indeed remarkable observations that are supported, as the authors note, by basic science experiments that came to similar conclusions.
Is it possible that THC will be commonly prescribed in the future for patients with diabetes or metabolic syndrome alongside antidiabetic oral agents or insulin for improved management of this chronic illness? Only time will answer this question for us.
And yet the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, whose employees have a financial interest in keeping marijuana illegal, claim marijuana isn't really medicine. Tsk-tsk.
More than 15,000 Americans likely will die from bladder cancer this year, the National Cancer Institute states. It's long been known that smoking tobacco can double or triple your risk for bladder cancer. A study that tracked 83,000 men over 11 years to observe their incidences of bladder cancer confirmed that notion, and also suggests that smoking cigarettes and pot boosts the likelihood of contracting the disease.
But the new findings, as mentioned in a USA Today story last week, suggest that people who smoke only marijuana enjoy a substantially lower risk of bladder cancer. From the article:
"Cannabis use only was associated with a 45 percent reduction in bladder cancer incidence, and tobacco use only was associated with a 52 percent increase in bladder cancer," said study author Dr. Anil A. Thomas, a fellow in urology at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles.
The more pot, the better: Researchers found that people who used marijuana more than 500 times a year were better off as far as bladder-cancer risk than those who used it infrequently.
Whatever problems marijuana may cause, diabetes and bladder cancer apparently aren't among them.