Cannabis Linked To Diabetes Prevention And Better Blood Sugar Control, New Study Finds

Zinger Key Points
  • Study shows cannabis users have healthy body responses to inflammation, blood sugar control, and are more active, reducing diabetes risk.
  • Studies concur that certain cannabinoids are effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Hence, the growing use among athletes and seniors.

People who use cannabis, per the study, have healthier body responses to inflammation, better control of blood sugar levels and are often more active compared to those who don’t. These factors together could reduce the risk of developing diabetes, according to new research undertaken in a SONIC trial – a longitudinal epidemiological survey that involves collecting data repeatedly from the same individuals over time.

In the United States, more than 38 million people have diabetes, with one in five unaware of their condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Ongoing studies continue to focus on prevention, treatment, and management of diabetes, which is crucial for public health.

Angela Bryan, Ph.D., professor and co-director of CUChange at the University of Colorado, Boulder found “those inflammatory profiles would improve over the course of 4 weeks, particularly for those using a CBD [cannabidiol] as opposed to a THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] product.”

Bryan and her colleagues presented their findings at the 2024 annual American Diabetes Association 84th Scientific Sessions.

What's It All About?

In the SONIC study, regular cannabis users were generally young, healthy and physically active, with an average age of 30 and a healthy body mass index (BMI). They were compared to non-users with similar demographics. Baseline dietary assessments showed a need for improvement, but cannabis users excelled in physical activity. The study involved oral glucose tolerance tests to measure insulin sensitivity and assessments of various inflammatory markers.

Participants used a cannabis flower product for four weeks, documenting their use, diet and physical activity. Eating patterns between users and non-users were similar, with users consuming slightly more salty snacks. After four weeks, no significant changes in inflammatory markers were found, but users had lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers and circulating cytokines compared to non-users. An exception was monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) levels. MCP-1 is a protein that signals white blood cells called monocytes to areas of inflammation or injury, aiding in the immune response and tissue healing.

Numerous studies have concurred that selected cannabinoids and cannabis terpenes are effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Hence, the growing acceptance among athletes and others who suffer from chronic pain.

Read Also: Game Changing Move? NFL Tackles Pain And Concussions In CBD Clinical Trial Partnership With Canadian University

The study showed no chronic effects of cannabis use on insulin sensitivity after controlling for BMI and inflammation. The authors noted that the study’s limitations include a very healthy sample and the inability to use gold-standard randomization due to the schedule-1 status of cannabis, which continues to stymie cannabis research. Day-to-day behavior differences between users and non-users were minimal.

Bryan’s other research highlights the public health implications of cannabis legalization. One study found that cannabis use before exercise might enhance enjoyment and the “runner’s high,” potentially making exercise more appealing, even to those at risk for diabetes.

Another study indicated that CBD-dominant cannabis forms could reduce acute tension and potentially alleviate long-term anxiety, relevant for diabetes distress.

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Photo: Shutterstock

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