(HealthDay News) – Regularly smoking pot is associated with visceral adiposity and adipose tissue insulin resistance, but not other metabolic changes such as impaired β-cell function or hepatic steatosis, according to a study published online March 25 in Diabetes Care.

Ranganath Muniyappa, MD, PhD, from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues compared abdominal fat depots, intrahepatic fat content, insulin sensitivity, and beta-cell function in 30 cannabis smokers (median of six joints a day for a median of 9.5 years) and 30 matched controls.

The researchers found that, although carbohydrate intake and percent calories from carbohydrates were significantly higher for the cannabis group, total energy intake was similar in both groups. Cannabis smokers had a significantly higher percent abdominal visceral fat (18% vs. 12%), significantly lower plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (49 vs. 55mg/dL), and a significantly lower adipocyte insulin resistance index and percent free fatty acids suppression during an oral glucose tolerance test.

“Chronic cannabis smoking was associated with visceral adiposity and adipose tissue insulin resistance but not with hepatic steatosis, insulin insensitivity, impaired pancreatic β-cell function, or glucose intolerance,” Muniyappa and colleagues conclude.

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