As momentum for marijuana reform continues to build in the U.S., a new study touting the health benefits of pot emerges daily — or so it seems. The latest? Smoking weed just might make you thin.
Actually, it’s not the latest study by any means; it’s a survey published in May’s Journal of American Medicine that is beginning to garner attention, and it comes to this conclusion:
We found that marijuana use was associated with lower levels of fasting insulin and HOMA-IR, and smaller waist circumference.
In non-lab-nerd speak, that means that in addition to (possibly) making you thinner, smoking marijuana could prevent diabetes by helping to better regulate blood sugar. It’s a conclusion that runs contrary to the popular conception of couch-locked stoners stuffing their faces with Cheetos and Swedish Fish while watching South Park marathons. In fact, this study joins a long list of research projects that have arrived at the same conclusion. So what gives?
Before you cancel your gym membership and hit up your local drug dealer or take a walk to the dispensary, you might want to take a deep breath (of air, not pot smoke) and chill out. Remember, this is just a study (more like a survey), not an experiment, which means there is only a statistical connection, but no scientific evidence pointing to a correlation between Cannabis use and svelte waistlines.
There are, however, theories. Here are some of the most compelling.
The Unprovable (For Now) Theory
Many scientists speculate that there is “a relationship between cannabinoids and peripheral metabolic processes.” Unfortunately, this is likely to remain a theory for the time being because as Andrew Sullivan so astutely observes, laws banning the use of marijuana make conducting laboratory experiments rather difficult. That’s a major bummer when you consider the fact that pot could prove to be an effective tool for fighting everything from diabetes to heart disease.
The Religion Theory
God seems to have his hands in a whole host of issues these days — everything from abortion to stem cells to gay marriage — but weed? It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Recent studies have shown that highly religious people who tend to abstain from drug use balance their good behavior with gluttony. Essentially, they’re eating too much instead of getting high, substituting one vice (drug use) for the other (overeating). As a result, pot smokers tend to be thinner or more accurately, less fat.
The Cancer & AIDS Theory
This one’s pretty simple and a little dark. Basically, many of the people who smoke marijuana, especially those who do so legally, use the drug because their already suffering from an affliction that causes a reduced appetite, like eating disorders, cancer or AIDS. They’re thinner because of their disease, and they just so happen to smoke weed. Makes sense.
The Potheads Lead Healthier Lifestyles Theory
Weed Smokers are strange, ethereal folks. They love to frolic outdoors, swim and go rock climbing. They enjoy suckling the sweet juices of fresh fruits and vegetables. They also tend to get more sleep, which is great for metabolism (you also can’t eat if you’re passed out on your sofa or sleeping in a deep haze of lucid dreams). As a result, these lifestyle changes balance out the extra calories from late-night runs to Chipotle and Pinkberry.
The Weed as a Substitute for Booze Theory
People who toke on a regular basis often do so in place of drinking — especially binge drinking — or so this theory, introduced by Andrew Sullivan, suggests. Therefore, smokers of the wacky weed are trading one, unhealthy, fattening drug (alcohol) for another less sinister one (THC). Don’t believe us? Why else would Beer and Alcohol companies lobby so hard against the legalization of marijuana?
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