Researchers have found that there is a link between marijuana use and prediabetes. Prediabetes occurs when a person’s blood sugar is chronically high but has not reached levels where type 2 diabetes is caused. People with prediabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if this condition goes unchecked.
One of the biggest problems with the legalization of marijuana is that there is not enough information about how long-term drug use affects users. This is one study that indicates that marijuana’s medical properties may not be as beneficial as previously assumed.
In the past, physicians theorized that an increase of diabetes cases among marijuana users could be due to the tendency to eat more after consuming marijuana, with the extra calories leading to elevated blood sugar levels. However, researchers are beginning to think that there is a component within the actual drug that may be putting users at risk for prediabetes. In order to determine what the causes are, researchers agree that more studies need to be performed.
Coming to the conclusion that prolonged marijuana use can cause prediabetes required a significant amount of work. Researchers gathered information from an ongoing study called CARDIA, or Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults. This study gathers medical information from participants in four cities throughout the country over a period of 25 years. The initial data was taken when most of the participants were around the age of 30. After answering a questionnaire, the researchers were able to determine that 625 of the participants had never smoked marijuana, while 1014 participants were considered heavy marijuana smokers, using the drug at least 100 times in their life. Generally, those who abused marijuana in this age bracket were healthy and even more fit than those that were not abusing the drug.
Next, researchers looked at the smoking and physical habits of the participants 18 years later. Interestingly, even though previous examinations showed that the heavy marijuana users were healthy, by the time they reached the age of 50 they were 40% more likely to have prediabetes.
More research needs to be done as to why this occurs, however, it is clear that medical complications from long-term use of marijuana are serious problems that more people are likely to encounter.