Study Finds Marijuana May Protect Overweight Individuals From Diabetes

According to a new study marijuana use among those who are obese is associated with lower fasting insulin levels which are useful is fighting diabetes. in The Journal of Diabetes.

The study, titled Lifetime use of marijuana use in relation to insulin resistance in lean, overweight, and obese US adults, was published in the recent issue of The Journal of Diabetes and was published by the U.S. National Institute of Health.

For the study researchers at Laval University, the National Public Health Institute of Quebec and the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute assessed the relationship between marijuana use and fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance in a nationally representative sample of over 129,000 adults. In conducting the study, it was found that the current and past use of marijuana is associated with significant and persistent changes in insulin levels in obese individuals compared to those who haven’t used marijuana.

“[W]e found that lifetime marijuana use is significantly associated with lower fasting insulin and HOMA-IR (a measure of insulin resistance) in obese individuals,” states the study. “We also found that long time (> 10 years) after cessation, former users showed significantly lower levels of fasting insulin and HOMA-IR scores than did never users, independent of their frequency of use in the past.”

The full abstract of the study can be found below:


Obese individuals are more likely to show insulin resistance (IR). However, limited population studies on marijuana use with markers of IR yield mixed results.


We abstracted data from the 2009-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). We estimated the minimal lifetime marijuana use using the duration of regular exposure and the frequency of use. We used generalized linear models to determine the association of marijuana use with both fasting insulin and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) in lean, overweight and obese individuals, separately. We used interview weight years of data to account for the unequal probability of sampling and non-response.


Of the total of 129,509 adults aged 18 to 59 years, 50.3% were women. In current obese consumers, the mean insulin in those with < 4 uses/months was 52% (95% CI: 19% to 71%) lower than in never users. Former obese consumers with ≥ 8 uses/month and who stopped marijuana use < 12 months showed 47% (95% CI: 18% to 66%) lower insulin. Those with last use of 12-119 months and ≥ 120 months had 36% (95% CI: 7% to 57%) and 36% (95% CI: 10% to 54%) lower insulin, respectively.


Marijuana use is associated with lower fasting insulin and HOMA-IR in obese but not in non-obese adults, even at a low frequency of < 4 uses per month. Former consumers with high lifetime use had a significantly lower insulin level which persists, independent of the duration of time since last use.


You can find more information about this study by clicking here.