Friday, September 09, 2011

Study: Pot smokers may be at lower obesity risk

One suspects the integrity of the self-report data this is based on. Pot users could report themselves as slimmer than they really are for a number of reasons: paranoia, frivolity, poor reality contact etc.

Despite the tendency of marijuana users to experience the "munchies," pot smokers may have a lower risk of obesity that those who don't use the drug, a new study finds. The results show the prevalence of obesity is lower among people who frequently smoke pot compared with those who have never inhaled.

The researchers said they were surprised by their initial results, because they expected to find the opposite. So they examined a second sample of people, and found exactly the same result. Together, the two samples studied more than 50,000 people.

The reason behind the link is not clear. It could be that people who use cannabis also engage in other behaviors that lower their obesity risk. Or it may be that pot smokers exercise more or have a specific diet that keeps them thin, said study researcher Yann Le Strat, a psychiatrist at Louis Mourier Hospital in France.

"On a personal point of view, I would be surprised that cannabis use is associated with a higher rate of physical activity, but this cannot be ruled out," Le Strat told MyHealthNewsDaily.

Another possibility is that components of cannabis may help people lose weight. If this turns out to be the case, researchers should investigate which components these might be and try to put them into drug form, Le Strat said.

Cannabis and obesity

Cannabis use is known to increase appetite. In studies, drugs have been developed to block a receptor in the brain that is activated by cannabis compounds (called the cannabinoid CB1 receptor) in the hope that the drugs would reduce hunger. However, very few studies have looked at the link between cannabis use and obesity.

Le Strat and colleagues examined data from two national surveys in the United States called the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) and the National Comorbidity Survey—Replication, involving about 41,600 and 9,100 people, respectively.

Between 4 and 7 percent of participants in these surveys reported using cannabis at least once in the last year. Obesity was assessed using participants' body mass index (BMI). The survey showed that about 22 to 25 percent of people who don't smoke pot were obese, while 16 to 17 percent of cannabis users were obese.

Obesity was less common among users who smoked pot more frequently. For instance, the NESARC survey showed about 14 percent of participants who used cannabis three days a week or more were obese, the researchers said. Between 0.7 and 1.8 percent of the sample smoked marijuana this frequently.

The participants reported their own BMI as well as cannabis use, so if they did not give accurate estimates of these measurements, the results could be skewed.


Oily fish and nuts 'cut chance of food allergies'

If you are a pig. It's speculation anyway. The changes in the gut observed have NOT been shown to lead to fewer allergies

Mothers-to-be can reduce the chances of their babies developing food allergies by eating a diet rich in oily fish and nuts, new research indicates.

Academics have discovered that omega-3 fatty acids - found in fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna, as well as walnuts, pumpkin seeds and linseeds - prompt the gut to develop in a way that boosts the immune system.

And they warn that more children could now be at risk of food allergies than in the past because consumption of such foods has fallen.

The team, from France's National Agricultural Research Institute (INRA), found that when mothers-to-be ate a diet high in a particular group of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), the gut walls of their offspring were more permeable.

This allowed more broken down food substances and bacteria to pass into the bloodstream, triggering the baby's immune system to produce antibodies.

Dr GaĆ«lle Boudry, from the INRA, explained: "Our study identifies that a certain group of polyunsaturated fatty acids causes a change in how a baby’s gut develops, which in turn might change how the gut immune system develops."

She continued: "The end result is that the baby’s immune system may develop and mature faster – leading to better immune function and less likelihood of suffering allergies."

Food allergy appears to be a growing problem, with the number of related hospital admissions in Britain rising six-fold since 1990.

There is considerable debate about how real the reported increase actually is, however. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) last year estimated that while more than a third believed they were allergic to some form of food, only a tenth were found to be allergic when properly tested.

Nonetheless, a recent, robust study from the Isle of Wight found one in 20 children did have an allergy. It also found evidence that the real incidence was growing.

Allergy experts do not really know what is behind the rise. One theory is the 'hygiene hypothesis': that as homes have become cleaner, children's immune systems now have less chance to develop fully.

More and more attention is also being paid to the role of early exposure to foods, both in the first years of life and in the womb.

Dr Boudry said: "There is intense research interest in maternal diet during pregnancy. In the Western diet, the group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that we have shown to help gut function are actually disappearing – our dietary intake of fish and nut oils is being replaced by corn oils which contain a different kind of fatty acid."

Their research, published in The Journal of Physiology, added to evidence that consuming such fatty acids in pregnancy was beneficial for babies, she claimed.

"Other studies have found that a diet containing fish or walnut oil during pregnancy may make your baby smarter – our research adds to this, suggesting such supplements also accelerate the development of a healthy immune system to ward off food allergies."

She emphasised that their study was in pigs, but the research group believe the animal's intestine is an "excellent model of the human gut".

In the study, pregnant and lactating sows were given a dietary supplementation of linseed oil. The permeability of their offsprings' intestinal walls was than compared with that of piglets from sows not given the supplement.


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