Want to lose an inch around your waist* while reducing your bad cholesterol?

US Americans in their 20s who don’t use cannabis are more than twice as likely as their cannabis-using peers to show symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome, according to a paper by Denise C. Vidot and colleagues at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, published last year in the American Journal of Medicine. Older adults also benefit from cannabis use, the study showed, at a less dramatic rate.  You’d think the paper by Vidot et al would have made headlines in the media, but noooo… Obviously, there are confounding factors —the marijuana users probably drink less Pepsi and dance more. Even so, the protective effect is remarkable.

Imagine how much attention in the popular media Vidot et al would have gotten if they had found the opposite of what they in fact did. Headlines would have proclaimed “Marijuana Use Linked to Diabetes!”  But like so many other research projects that document the benefits of cannabis, the results were concealed from the newspaper-reading and TV watching public.

Here’s the gist of the downplayed study, “Metabolic Syndrome Among Marijuana Users in the United States:”

BACKGROUND: Our objective was to explore the relationship between marijuana use and metabolic syndrome across stages of adulthood.

METHODS: An analysis of 20- to 59-year-olds (n=8,794) who completed the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys was conducted. Marijuana use was categorized as: never used, past use (used previously but not within the last 30 days), and current use (1 day in the last 30 days). Metabolic syndrome was defined as three of the following: elevated fasting glucose, high triglycerides, low high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, elevated systolic/diastolic blood pressure, and increased waist circumference. An age-stratified analysis was conducted to examine the relationship between marijuana use and metabolic syndrome among emerging adults (20-30 years), adults (31-44 years), and middle-aged adults (45-59 years).

RESULTS: Fourteen percent (13.8%) of current marijuana users and 17.5% of past marijuana users presented with metabolic syndrome, compared with 19.5% of never users. Current marijuana users had lower odds of presenting with metabolic syndrome than never users. Among emerging adults, current marijuana users were 54% less likely than never users to present with metabolic syndrome. Current and past middle-aged adult marijuana users were less likely to have metabolic syndrome than never users.

CONCLUSIONS: Current marijuana use is associated with lower odds of metabolic syndrome across emerging and middle-aged US adults. Future studies should examine the biological pathways of this relationship.  2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. The American Journal of Medicine (2016) 129, 173-179.


* Can anyone explain why a man with a 35-inch waist can’t buy Levi’s that fit at his local Target?  There are many styles on the shelves, with waist sizes ascending 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 38… and continuing with even-numbered waists. It doesn’t make any sense from a marketing POV. Aren’t there millions of US Americans walking around with 35- and 37- and 39-inch circumferences? Are they supposed to use cannabis until they slim down to an even number?