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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Marijuana’s Effect On Weight Gain

With increased access to marijuana across the country, the effects of the drug are of greater concern. There has been an exponential increase of marijuana related research projects. Most people associate marijuana use with increased appetite, leading many doctors to recommend the drug to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Marijuana’s appetite stimulating properties begs the question: Does marijuana use affect weight gain?

New research suggests that while long-term marijuana use does influence weight gain, gender may play an important role, ScienceDaily reports. The researchers write that marijuana use leads to a temporary increase in appetite, but the drug's role in weight gain depends on a number of factors and the data available is sparse.

According to Didier Jutras-Aswad, University of Montreal professor and researcher at the CHUM Research Centre:

"It is known -- and often reported by users -- that cannabis causes temporary increase in appetite. As to whether it actually causes weight gain in the long term, the available data is limited. The question is all the more difficult to answer since many other factors can influence weight. For instance, cannabis use may be associated with cigarette smoking, which also alters appetite, and many effects of cannabis vary by gender and level of use. For this study, we wanted to better understand the association between cannabis and weight gain by paying particular attention to these factors. The main finding of our study shows that long-term cannabis use indeed influences weight gain. But above all, we noted that certain factors drastically modify this effect, including gender, level of use, and concomitant cigarette smoking."

The researchers, at this time, are unable to explain why marijuana use affects the weight gain of men and women differently, according to the article. However, they have some ideas.

"THC and nicotine do not affect the neurobiological circuits controlling hunger in the same way in men and women," explained Jutras-Aswad. "We also know that these targets in the brain are modified by hormonal factors that can fluctuate, in particular, during menstrual cycles. There are also possible psychological differences in men and women in their perception of and preoccupation with weight gain and diet, which could hypothetically explain why men seem specifically sensitive to the complex interaction between cannabis use, cigarette smoking, and weight gain."

The findings were published in Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior.

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