New Study Finds Alcohol Damages Your Brain More Than Weed
Weed has been illegal for decades, and has subsequently been regarded alongside other drugs that can damage your brain and body. But as the narcotic becomes decriminalised and even legalised in some US states, a new study has found that it's nowhere near as harmful as alcohol.
The University of Colorado Boulder found that booze affects your brain's grey and white matter, whereas marijuana doesn't, even after years of use.
Grey matter contains your mind's cell bodies and synapses, while white matter is made of axons which connect grey matter to each other.
Study author Professor Kent Hutchison said: "While marijuana may also have some negative consequences, it definitely is nowhere near the negative consequences of alcohol."
More than 850 people aged between 18 and 35, along with 439 teenagers aged between 14 to 18 were included in the research. Their alcohol and cannabis use over 30 days was monitored and upon completion, they had an MRI scan of their brain.
One thing Professor Hutchison points out, however, is that while alcohol isn't great for you, it doesn't mean you should immediately replace a Friday night pint with lighting up a joint and chucking on your favourite tunes.
He says there are studies out there that claim weed can affect your brain in different ways, but there's not much evidence to definitely back that up.
"When you look at these studies going back years," he says, "you see that one study will report that marijuana use is related to a reduction in the volume of the hippocampus [a region of the brain associated with memory and emotions].
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"The next study then comes around, and they say that marijuana use is related to changes in the cerebellum or the whatever.
"The point is that there's no consistency across all of these studies in terms of the actual brain structures."
A New Zealand study surveyed more than a thousand locals and found that long-term marijuana use has no long-term effects on your heath, adding that the only negative outcome is on your teeth. It claimed these weed lovers actually had better cholesterol levels and a smaller waist size.
But then another research group looked at what happens if you smoke the ganja every week as a teen and they found it's definitely not the best.
The University of Maryland School of Medicine came to the conclusion that those who smoke cannabis weekly during their adolescent years are more likely to develop conditions including attention deficit disorder (ADD) and schizophrenia, and suffer permanent reductions in intelligence.
One of the most recent studies released on the drug says it can cut the risk of an epileptic fit by nearly half - however it's worth noting that sufferers of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (a rare form of the condition) were taking medication derived from cannabis rather than toking on spliffs every day, when taking part in the study.
But these four examples show that there is still so much we don't know about marijuana. Some studies claim its bad, others suggest the opposite - and some even claim that it's is a life-saving wonder drug.
Sources: The University of Colorado Boulder
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