Smoking cannabis may prevent the development of diabetes, one of the most rapidly rising chronic disorders in the world.
If the link is proved, it could lead to the development of treatments based on the active ingredient of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), without its intoxicating effects.
Researchers have found that regular users of the drug had lower levels of the hormone insulin after fasting – a signal that they are protected against diabetes. They also had reduced insulin resistance. Cannabis is widely smoked in the United States with over 17 million current users of whom more than four million smoke it on a daily basis. In the UK latest figures show 2.3 million people used cannabis in the last year, but the numbers have declined in the last decade.
Two US states have recently legalised its recreational use and 19 others have legalised it for medical purposes by patients with one of several conditions including multiple sclerosis and cancer. THC has already been approved to treat the side effects of chemotherapy, nausea in cancer patients, anorexia associated with AIDS and other conditions.