A recently released study funded by the German-Israeli Foundation helped scientists have found what may be a link between obesity, nephropathy and kidney disease. Compounds like those found in marijuana seem to play a preventative role.
Obesity can worsen hypertension and increases the risk of chronic kidney disease. Renal dysfunction occurs early as someone becomes obese. This is further complicated since the condition also increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Men over 50 are more likely to be affected. But older men are just one segment of this affected population.
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Obesity is a major healthcare challenge throughout the world. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1.4 billion people in the world are overweight. In the US alone, two-thirds of Americans are overweight and almost one-third are obese.
The challenge to doctors has been understanding how the connection happens. In this study scientists focused on the endocannabinoid system, the innate system we share with all vertebrate animals. Receptors connect like a lock and key with specific, naturally occurring cannabinoids, similar in chemical structure to those found in the cannabis plant.
The CB1 type receptors were targeted and ‘knocked out’ for the lab mice. The modified mice were then fed a high calorie diet to make them obese. The same diet was fed to the control group, wild mice with non adjusted genetic codes. All mice became severely overweight but all were not equally healthy.
There was less incidence of both inflammation and compromised, fibrous tissue in the knockout mice. Additional markers used to measure the likelihood of kidney disease were also found to be lower in the genetically modified group. Increased fat droplets in the tubes leading to the kidneys and increase in enzymes related to kidney disease were found in wild mice but not those whose CB1 receptors had been affected.
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Researchers concluded that targeting the CB1 receptors could be crucial in helping obese patients minimize this kidney condition. This could be huge news for both people with obesity related renal disease and those who are at risk of developing it. After all, marijuana for medical purposes has continued to prove to be an effective and even safer alternative for many conditions than existing therapies.
There is no shortage of people who could benefit if this study foreshadows the effectiveness of marijuana and its compounds to ward off renal damage and disease. Considering the number of people worldwide who suffer from this condition, we can expect to see much more interest in this rather novel approach to minimizing risk to the kidneys.