Stoned Citizens who regularly consume cannabis, despite experiencing increased appetite known as the munchies, tend to have lower body weight and a reduced risk of diabetes compared to non-users. However, researchers from the University of California, Irvine have recently discovered a potential explanation for this seemingly contradictory phenomenon, and unfortunately, it is not good news.
The researchers’ findings were recently published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
A study from the University of California, Irvine found that adolescent exposure to low-dose THC, a primary component of cannabis, disrupts energy balance and fat storage processes in adulthood, leading to a leaner body and reduced risk of obesity and diabetes.
However, the altered processes also impair the ability to mobilize stored nutrients, crucial for brain and muscle activity, with the fat cells producing muscle proteins in abnormal amounts, potentially affecting physical activity and cognitive functions like attention.
Many adults who consume cannabis daily or almost daily begin using the drug when they are teenagers. During this time of rapid physical development, the new study shows, cannabis can wreak havoc in the fine-tuned processes that govern energy storage, making the body leaner and less susceptible to obesity but also less capable of mobilizing stored nutrients needed for brain and muscle activity.
These alterations are rooted in striking molecular changes that occur within the body’s fat depots – also known as the adipose organ – which after exposure to cannabis start making proteins that are normally found only in muscle and the heart.
Researchers gave low daily doses of THC or its vehicle to adolescent mice. They then stopped the treatment and, after the animals had reached adulthood, carried out a thorough assessment of the animals’ metabolism. The results were surprising.