Wait…Marijuana Can Increase My Risk of Alzheimer’s??

New research indicates marijuana can really do a number on brain tissue.

Meet Bill.

Bill smokes marijuana every day – a lot of it. From blunts and bowls to bongs and wax, there’s barely a waking moment Bill isn’t high.

Meet Bill’s Brain

As we travel through Bill’s cranium, we see the blood flow (in nearly all areas of his brain) is reduced. Compared to someone who doesn’t use marijuana, Bill’s brain is getting less of the essential oxygenated blood it needs. A glance around reveals tissue damage and dead cells, thanks to the reduced oxygen levels. His brain is essentially choking.

As our tour continues, we come to the hippocampus region. This is the part of Bill’s brain associated with learning and memory. It’s also the first region of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease. We notice the reduction in blood flow is greatest in this part of Bill’s brain. That can’t be good – and researchers agree.

Our tour of Bill’s brain is based on the results of a recent study. Experts examined the blood flow and brain activity of people with a marijuana use disorder and compared them to healthy, non-users’ brains. Their discoveries indicate that “marijuana use may increase susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease.”

Study co-author Dr. Cyrus Raji admitted the results even surprised their team. They didn’t suspect “just how much marijuana use affected brain blood flow.”

Raji stated in an interview, “Prior papers have suggested that marijuana can damage the brain. What surprised [us] was how low blood flow was in the brains of our cohort – virtually every brain area had reduced blood flow on perfusion imaging in relation to marijuana use.”

Researchers Warn: Save Your Memory

With changes in marijuana laws and potential increases in nationwide usage, researchers point out it’s more important than ever to gain a thorough understanding of the effects of marijuana. Reduced brain blood flow could be a very harmful effect previously overlooked.

Other studies “have associated weakened blood flow in the hippocampus with Alzheimer’s disease,” and marijuana use inhibits hippocampus activity and disrupts memory formation. Putting these facts together, we see that marijuana use might lead to a greater risk for Alzheimer’s.

Researcher Dr. Elisabeth Jorandby notes, “This work suggests that marijuana use has damaging influences in the brain – particularly regions important in memory and learning and known to be affected by Alzheimer’s.”

Dr. Daniel Armen, study co-author, sees these results as a warning for marijuana users, stating, “Our research demonstrates that marijuana can have significant negative effects on brain function. The media has given the general impression that marijuana is a safe recreational drug, this research directly challenges that notion.”

Image Source: iStock