A new study has shown that people with Type I Diabetes are about twice as likely to experience a complication known as diabetic ketoacidosis when using cannabis, the CBC reports.
While other research has shown that cannabis can be helpful in treating symptoms of Type II diabetes — the variety of diabetes that is linked to obesity and often develops later in life — the plant’s effects on Type I diabetes are not as well investigated.
Researchers surveyed 450 patients with Type I diabetes who were being treated at Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes in Colorado. 30 percent of those surveyed used cannabis — that population showed elevated blood sugar as a whole.
While risk factors varied, the cannabis-using patients were generally younger, less educated, and also in lower income brackets. Researchers admit that many other factors may be at play, including access to healthcare, but urge caution when using cannabis with Type I diabetes until more is known.
“Why cannabis would increase the likelihood of diabetic ketoacidosis is unknown. But we have also shown that in the presence of cannabis, the diabetic ketoacidosis is harder to diagnose, and therefore it may be missed, with deadly consequences.” — Dr. Annemarie Hennessy, dean of medicine at Western Sydney University
Researchers theorized that vomiting may accompany extended cannabis use and that changes in gut conditions due to cannabis may be responsible for the increased risk. Treatment for diabetic ketoacidosis involves intravenous re-hydration and insulin.
As always with the federally restricted cannabis plant, more medical research is desperately needed.