Breaking News
December 14, 2018 - New model could cure the potential to underestimate how quickly diseases spread
December 14, 2018 - Exercise-induced hormone activates cells critical for bone remodeling in mice
December 14, 2018 - Researchers discover new mechanism behind spread of malignant pleural mesothelioma
December 14, 2018 - Health Tip: Celebrate a Healthier Holiday
December 14, 2018 - Scalpel-free surgery enhances quality of life for Parkinson’s patients, study finds
December 14, 2018 - Early physical therapy can reduce risk, amount of long-term opioid use | News Center
December 14, 2018 - Genetic marker, predictor of early relapse in common childhood cancer discovered
December 14, 2018 - Study could lead to a potential new way of treating sepsis
December 14, 2018 - New protein complex helps embryonic stem cells to maintain their indefinite potential
December 14, 2018 - Salk professor receives $1.8 million from NOMIS Foundation for research on mechanisms to promote health
December 14, 2018 - New discovery will improve the safety and predictability of CRISPR
December 14, 2018 - Geneticists discover how sex-linked disorders arise
December 14, 2018 - New method to visualize small-molecule interactions inside cells
December 14, 2018 - Study describes mechanism that makes people more vulnerable to hunger-causing stimuli
December 14, 2018 - Chronic opioid therapy associated with increased healthcare spending and hospital stays
December 14, 2018 - Blood Types
December 14, 2018 - Obesity linked to increased risk of early-onset colorectal cancer
December 14, 2018 - Blood test helps identify distinct molecular signatures in children with cystic fibrosis
December 14, 2018 - Scientists use water to track electrical activity of nerve cells
December 14, 2018 - Recurrence of urinary tract infection may depend on bacterial strain, study shows
December 14, 2018 - GBT Announces U.S. FDA Agrees with its Proposal Relating to Accelerated Approval Pathway for Voxelotor for the Treatment of Sickle Cell Disease and GBT Plans to Submit New Drug Application (NDA)
December 14, 2018 - Partial Thromboplastin Time (PTT) Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
December 14, 2018 - Common tactics for health promotion at work may be detrimental to employees with obesity
December 14, 2018 - Myths about migration and health not supported by available evidence
December 14, 2018 - Recent findings on rare genetic disorder may help develop new treatment options
December 14, 2018 - New drug shows promise in treating sarcomas
December 14, 2018 - Scientists perform lung lavage as new approach for tuberculosis diagnosis in rhinoceros
December 14, 2018 - Recent winners of the Nobel Medicine Prize
December 14, 2018 - KHN’s ‘What the Health?’ Insurance enrollment is lagging — and there are lots of reasons why
December 14, 2018 - Study assesses safety and efficacy of new treatment for pancreatic cancer
December 14, 2018 - Study finds drug targets for Ebola, Dengue, and Zika viruses
December 14, 2018 - Shining new light on neuron firing
December 14, 2018 - Study highlights need for personalized approach to treat ICU acquired delirium
December 14, 2018 - Soot particles from road traffic significantly contribute to air pollution
December 14, 2018 - Massage helps relieve pain, improve mobility in patients with knee osteoarthritis
December 14, 2018 - Researchers explore home healthcare nurses’ knowledge attitudes toward infection control
December 14, 2018 - Average outpatient visit in the U.S. costs nearly $500, shows new study
December 14, 2018 - Reference Infliximab, Biosimilar Equivalent for Crohn’s Disease
December 14, 2018 - New contact lens to treat eye injuries
December 14, 2018 - Acne could have a genetic basis find researchers promising new cure
December 14, 2018 - Higher physical activity associated with improved mood
December 14, 2018 - New UGA study points to optimal hypertension treatment for stroke patients
December 14, 2018 - Study highlights factors that can reduce food cravings
December 14, 2018 - Researchers discover Ebola-fighting protein in human cells
December 14, 2018 - Fentanyl surpasses heroin in cause of U.S. drug overdose deaths
December 14, 2018 - When Heart Attack Strikes, Women Often Hesitate to Call for Help
December 14, 2018 - A warning about costume contacts
December 14, 2018 - Study examines link between peripheral artery disease and heart attack
December 14, 2018 - Researchers develop biotechnological tool to produce antifungal proteins in plants
December 14, 2018 - 3D-printed adaptive aids can benefit patients with arthritis
December 14, 2018 - Chronic bullying during adolescence impacts mental health
December 14, 2018 - Integral Molecular and Merus collaborate to develop bispecific antibody therapeutics
December 13, 2018 - Importance of cell cycle and cellular senescence in the placenta discovered
December 13, 2018 - Gold “nanoprisms” open new window into vessels and single cells
December 13, 2018 - Research findings could lead to new targets for cancer-fighting therapeutics
December 13, 2018 - Butantan Institute signs collaboration agreement with MSD to develop dengue vaccines
December 13, 2018 - Study explores how patients want to discuss symptoms with doctors
December 13, 2018 - RUDN medics first to gather scattered data on hepatitis morbidity in Somalia
December 13, 2018 - Age and gender disparities found in use of bed nets to prevent malaria in sub-Saharan Africa
December 13, 2018 - Caffeine therapy benefits developing brains of premature babies
December 13, 2018 - New review focuses on electrospinning techniques used in musculoskeletal tissue engineering
December 13, 2018 - A new division focused on human immune system
December 13, 2018 - Zogenix Announces Positive Phase 3 Trial Results on the Efficacy and Safety of Fintepla (ZX008) in Dravet Syndrome
December 13, 2018 - BCR ABL Genetic Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
December 13, 2018 - Caffeinated beverages during pregnancy linked to lower birth weight babies
December 13, 2018 - Stanford Medicine Health Trends Report examines opportunity to democratize health care
December 13, 2018 - Obsessive-compulsive disorder may protect individuals from obesity
December 13, 2018 - Scientists investigate how a painful event is processed in the brain
December 13, 2018 - Genetic study reveals new insights into underlying causes of moderate-to-severe asthma
December 13, 2018 - Study uncovers new genetic clues to frontotemporal dementia
December 13, 2018 - Vitamin C supplementation for pregnant smokers may reduce harm to infants’ lungs
December 13, 2018 - New study reveals yin-yang personality of dopamine
December 13, 2018 - Research identifies nerve-signaling pathway behind sustained pain after injury
December 13, 2018 - Children with high levels of callous traits show widespread differences in brain structure
December 13, 2018 - Long-term Benefit of Steroid Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis Challenged
December 13, 2018 - Adding new channels to the brain remote control
December 13, 2018 - In the Spotlight: A different side of neuroscience
December 13, 2018 - Medical Marvels: Using immunotherapy for melanoma that spread to the brain
December 13, 2018 - Puzzles do not keep dementia away finds study
December 13, 2018 - New mouse model shows potential for rapid identification of promising muscular dystrophy therapies
Cannabinoids are easier on the brain than booze, study finds

Cannabinoids are easier on the brain than booze, study finds

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Cannabinoids are easier on the brain than booze, study finds
Credit: University of Colorado at Boulder

Marijuana may not be as damaging to the brain as previously thought, according to new research from the University of Colorado Boulder and the CU Change Lab.

The research, which was published in the journal Addiction, examined the brains of more than 1,000 participants of varying ages, and found that long-term alcohol use is much more damaging to the brain than marijuana, contradicting years of research into the effects of marijuana and other cannabinoid products on the brain.

These findings, and other conclusions suggesting the potential public health benefits of marijuana, come amid the recent back-and-forth on federal marijuana policy and the nation’s opioid crisis.

Yet scientists are still hesitant to say that cannabinoid usage, specifically as it pertains to marijuana and its associated products, is beneficial.

“Particularly with marijuana use, there is still so much that we don’t know about how it impacts the brain,” said Rachel Thayer, a graduate student in clinical psychology at CU Boulder and the lead author of the study. “Research is still very limited in terms of whether marijuana use is harmful, or beneficial, to the brain.”

While the negative effects of alcohol on the brain have been known by researchers for years, it has been assumed that cannabinoids are as damaging to long-term brain health—if not more—given the immediate psychoactive effects of the THC (the chemical that gets a person high) in marijuana.

However, this may not necessarily be true.

“When you look at the research much more closely, you see that a lot of it is probably not accurate,” said study co-author Kent Hutchison, a professor of behavioral neuroscience at CU Boulder and co-director of the CU Change Lab, which explores the factors linked with health and risk behavior.

“When you look at these studies going back years, you see that one study will report that marijuana use is related to a reduction in the volume of the hippocampus. 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.”

To combat this misconception in the existing literature, the researchers gave a fresh look at some existing neurological imaging data from the MRIs of both adolescents and adults to see how, using the same variables and controls, the influence of cannabinoids on the brain compared to or contrasted with alcohol. 

“With alcohol, we’ve known it’s bad for the brain for decades,” said Hutchison. “But for cannabis, we know so little.”

To see any potential difference, the researchers used the data to examine the most important neurological components: gray matter and white matter.

Gray and white matter are the two main types of tissue that make up the brain and central nervous system. Gray matter is the “stuff”—the cell bodies, dendrites and axon terminals—that enable functionality. White matter, then, is how the grey matter communicates between clusters. Any loss of size or integrity in either can make the brain not work quite like it should.

The study found that alcohol use was significantly associated with a decrease in gray matter size and white matter integrity, particularly for adults who may have decades of exposure. Marijuana and associated cannabinoid products, on the other hand, were not shown to have any long-term impact on the amount of gray matter in the brain or on the integrity of the white matter.

The research demonstrated that, “while marijuana may also have some negative consequences, it definitely is nowhere near the negative consequences of alcohol,” according to Hutchison.

Despite marijuana not being as harmful as once thought, and definitely not as damaging as other legal and illegal products, the research has not yet proved any possible benefits. This is particularly the case as it relates to the different products on the market (both THC and non-THC-containing cannabinoid products), their usage with pain and addiction treatment and the effect on different ages—especially as cannabinoid usage is on the rise among older populations.

“Considering how much is happening in the real world with the legalization movement, we still have a lot of work to do,” Hutchison said.


Explore further:
Recent study in Oregon reveals public considers alcohol more harmful than marijuana

More information:
Rachel E. Thayer et al. Structural neuroimaging correlates of alcohol and cannabis use in adolescents and adults, Addiction (2017). DOI: 10.1111/add.13923

Journal reference:
Addiction

Provided by:
University of Colorado at Boulder

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles