Alcohol poses a far greater threat to brain health than marijuana, according to new research. In a new study published by the medical journal Addiction, experts from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder found that alcohol consumption was linked to lowered volumes of brain tissue.
Researchers observed the brain images of 853 adults between the ages 18 to 55, and 439 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18. All participants varied in their consumption of alcohol and cannabis.
They found long-term changes to both gray matter and white matter in the brain in alcohol users, particularly in adults who had been drinking for several years. In comparison, adults and teens who only used marijuana showed no significant changes in brain structure.
Any reduction of white or gray matter or a loss in their integrity can lead to impairments in brain functioning, the researchers noted.
“…while marijuana may also have some negative consequences, it definitely is nowhere near the negative consequences of alcohol,” wrote study co-author Kent Hutchison.
As for individuals who consume both, another recent medical study found that marijuana use can lower the risk of developing liver disease in alcoholics. Experts concede, however, that more research must be conducted into the effects of cannabis use. “With alcohol, we’ve known it’s bad for the brain for decades,” said Hutchison. “But for cannabis, we know so little.”
Article By Oscar Pascual
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