Frequent pot users are thinner than non-users, suggests the mouse study

By | June 5, 2023

If you want to get slimmer and have a beach body in time for this summer, try consuming weed frequently.

Regular cannabis users may be leaner with a lower body mass index (BMI) than their non-using counterparts, suggest data from a new study in mouse models. While munchies may induce appetite in the short term, the overall effects of frequent cannabis use suggest that something bigger is at play.

The study, Adolescent Exposure to Low Dose THC Disrupts Energy Balance and Fat Organ Homeostasis in Adulthood, was published June 1 in the journal cellular metabolism and announced with a press release. While they initially set out to determine BMI levels, the researchers noted few other observations that could explain the overall effects of cannabis.

As usual, given legal restrictions in the US, the study was limited to mouse models. The researchers observed adolescent male and female mice given a once-daily dose of THC (5 mg/kg). They found that THC-exposed mice of both sexes gained significantly less weight than control mice. The researchers ruled out nearly every other factor imaginable: Subsequent analyses, focusing on males, showed that this effect could not be attributed to changes in growth rate, head length, tail length, femur length and weight, locomotor activity, food intake or nutrient absorption.

One study author said that if we only think of cannabis as psychoactive, we are one-dimensional.

Too often we think of cannabis as just a psychoactive drug, said Daniele Piomelli, PhD, director of the UCI Center for the Study of Cannabis, Louise Turner Arnold Chair in Nuerosciences and professor in the UCI School of Medicine’s Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology .

He continued, but its effects extend far beyond the brain. Its main constituent, THC, mimics a group of chemical messengers called endocannabinoids, which regulate important functions throughout the body. Our results show that interference with endocannabinoid signaling during adolescence disrupts adipose organ function permanently, with potentially far-reaching consequences on physical and mental health.

Courtesy cellular metabolism

While the study showed lower body mass index in heavy consumers, they also noted that they observed changes in metabolism that could present several unknowns, especially in adolescents with still developing bodies.

The researchers noticed a few other things: The THC-treated mice were partially resistant to obesity and hyperglycemia, but had higher-than-normal body temperatures and were unable to mobilize fuel from fat stores. Many of these characteristics are also evident in humans who use cannabis frequently, they said.

Cells from THC-treated mice looked normal under a microscope, but produced large amounts of muscle protein in fat. (They shouldn’t be there.) Muscle, on the other hand, has been observed to have less of those same proteins.

Though still too early to be confirmed, the researchers speculated that these alien proteins could be interfering with the function of fat cells and their ability to store and release nutrients. They guessed that these changes could impact mental processes, such as attention.

Apparently, the evidence suggesting that smokers are thinner has always been there, and the data is plentiful.

Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have consistently reported lower BMI in healthy cannabis users compared with non-users, as well as inverse associations of cannabis use with BMI, waist circumference and other cardiometabolic risk factors, the study reports, with 16 sources cited.

In 2017, a longitudinal study by researchers in Denmark shattered the long-standing myth that smoking weed causes weight gain.

The study was funded primarily by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

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