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Marijuana Use Tied to Lower Fasting Insulin Level, HOMA-IR

FRIDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Marijuana use is associated with lower levels of fasting insulin and insulin resistance and with smaller waist circumference, according to a study published online May 16 in the American Journal of Medicine.

Elizabeth A. Penner, from the University of Nebraska in Omaha, and colleagues examined the correlation between marijuana use and fasting insulin, glucose, and insulin resistance using data from 4,657 adult men and women participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005 to 2010). Self-report in a private room was used to identify marijuana use. Blood samples taken after a nine-hour fast were used to determine fasting insulin and glucose levels, and insulin resistance was calculated using homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR).

The researchers found that 579 participants were current marijuana users and 1,975 were past users. Current marijuana use was associated with 16 percent lower fasting insulin levels and 17 percent lower HOMA-IR, in multivariable adjusted models. Marijuana use correlated significantly with smaller waist circumferences. There was no significant dose-response among current users.

"With the recent trends in legalization of marijuana in the United States, it is likely that physicians will increasingly encounter patients who use marijuana and should therefore be aware of the effects it can have on common disease processes, such as diabetes mellitus," write the authors. "We found that current marijuana use is associated with lower levels of fasting insulin, lower HOMA-IR, and smaller waist circumference."

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