Can smoking cannabis age your brain by 3 years?

brain scan

According to new research, there is a correlation between smoking cannabis and your brain aging about three years. Brain aging is defined as reduced blood flow through the organ. Reduced brain blood flow has previously been linked to strokes and dementia.

Cannabis was found to increase aging of the brain by 2.8 years, making it worse for your mind than bipolar disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The results suggest bipolar disorder accelerates brain aging by 1.6 years, with ADHD speeding it up by 1.4 years. People suffering from Schizophrenia, their brains were found to age even greater, at an average of 4 years. Drinking alcohol was shown to age the brain by 0.6 years. No correlation was found between brain aging and depression.

The researchers analyzed 62,454 brains scans from 31,227 people.

Scans were gathered during both rest and concentration. The ages of the people were between nine months and 105 years old to determine factors that contribute to brain aging.

Researchers analyzed the blood flow through 128 regions of each brain to find out how old they thought the individual was.

Once the age of the person was determined, they were able to measure the rate of the faster aging.

Lead study author, Dr. Daniel Amen, founder of Amen Clinics, said:

“The cannabis abuse finding was especially important, as our culture is starting to see marijuana as an innocuous substance. This study should give us pause about it.”

Amen also added:

“Based on one of the largest brain imaging studies ever done, we can now track common disorders and behaviors that prematurely age the brain. “Better treatment of these disorders can slow or even halt the process of brain aging.”

Dr. George Perry, from the University of Texas, San Antonio, commented on the research saying: “This is one of the first population-based imaging studies, and these large studies are essential to answer how to maintain brain structure and function during aging.”

Study author Sachit Egan, from Google, a partner also involved in the study, added the following:

“The results indicate that we can predict an individual’s age based on patterns of cerebral blood flow.”

“Additionally, groundwork has been laid to further explore how common psychiatric disorders can influence healthy patterns of cerebral blood flow.”

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