Tripathi B. Rajavashisth, Magda Shaheen, Keith C. Norris, Deyu Pan, Satyesh K. Sinha, Juan Ortega, Theodore C. Friedman

Published in BMJ Open

24 February 2012



To determine the association between diabetes mellitus (DM) and marijuana use.

Cross-sectional study.

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III, 1988-1994) conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study included participants of the NHANES III, a nationally representative sample of the US population. The total analytic sample was 10 896 adults. The study included four groups (n=10 896): non-marijuana users (61.0%), past marijuana users (30.7%), light (one to four times/month) (5.0%) and heavy (more than five times/month) current marijuana users (3.3%). DM was defined based on self-report or abnormal glycaemic parameters. We analysed data related to demographics, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol use, total serum cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, triglyceride, serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D, plasma haemoglobin A1c, fasting plasma glucose level and the serum levels of C reactive protein and four additional inflammatory markers as related to marijuana use.

OR for DM associated with marijuana use adjusted for potential confounding variables (ie, odds of DM in marijuana users compared with non-marijuana users).

Marijuana users had a lower age-adjusted prevalence of DM compared to non-marijuana users (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.33 to 0.55; p<0.0001). The prevalence of elevated C reactive protein (>0.5 mg/dl) was significantly higher (p<0.0001) among non-marijuana users (18.9%) than among past (12.7%) or current light (15.8%) or heavy (9.2%) users. In a robust multivariate model controlling for socio-demographic factors, laboratory values and comorbidity, the lower odds of DM among marijuana users was significant (adjusted OR 0.36, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.55; p<0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Marijuana use was independently associated with a lower prevalence of DM. Further studies are needed to show a direct effect of marijuana on DM.


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000494



Rajavashisth TB, Shaheen M, Norris KC, et al. Decreased prevalence of diabetes in marijuana users: cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III. BMJ Open. 2012;2(1):e000494. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000494