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Aug-21-2009 11:32printcomments

Study: Marijuana May Protect Against Alcohol Brain Damage

The study suggests that not only is marijuana safer than alcohol, it may actually protect against some of the damage that booze causes.

marijuana plant
Salem-News.com

( WASHINGTON, D.C.) - A study just published online by the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology suggests that marijuana may protect the brain from some of the damage caused by binge drinking.

The study, by researchers at the University of California San Diego, used a type of high-tech scan called diffusion tensor imaging to compare microscopic changes in brain white matter.

The subjects were students aged 16-to-19, divided into three groups: binge drinkers (defined as having five or more drinks at one sitting for boys or four or more for girls), binge drinkers who also smoked marijuana, and a control group who had very little or no experience with either alcohol or drugs.

As expected, the binge-drinking-only group showed evidence of white matter damage in eight regions examined, as demonstrated by lower fractional anisotropy (FA) scores. But in a finding the researchers describe as "unexpected," the binge-drinking/marijuana group had lower FA scores than the controls in only three of eight regions, and in seven regions the binge-drinking/marijuana group had higher scores -- indicating less damage -- than the binge drinkers who did not use marijuana.


Brain white matter tracts were "more coherent in adolescents who binge drink and use marijuana than in adolescents who report only binge drinking," the researchers wrote.

"It is possible that marijuana may have some neuroprotective properties in mitigating alcohol-related oxidative stress or excitotoxic cell death," as has already been shown in lab and animal studies.

"This study suggests that not only is marijuana safer than alcohol, it may actually protect against some of the damage that booze causes," said Steve Fox, Marijuana Policy Project director of state campaigns and co-author of the new book, "Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?" (which hit number 14 on the Amazon.com bestseller list). "It's far better for teens not to drink or smoke marijuana, but our nation's leaders send a dangerous message by defending laws that encourage the use of alcohol over marijuana."

REFERENCE: Jacobus, J. et al. "White matter integrity in adolescents with histories of marijuana use and binge drinking." Neurotoxicology and Teratology. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ntt.2009.07.006

Source: MarijuanaPolicy.org, the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.




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bob the builder October 8, 2009 4:28 am (Pacific time)

hello x


Louis Brooks August 27, 2009 5:00 am (Pacific time)

Oppression is the reason the wise have madness. Smoking of all things is a circle of opression and cigar smoking fat cats will not be swayed.


lewis August 27, 2009 4:54 am (Pacific time)

Cannabis will always be illegal as people tend to smoke it, this makes them no better people that fat cats smoking cigar who are the really people blocking legalisation and oppressing use to madness.


Norman Lepoff, M.D. retired August 23, 2009 9:35 am (Pacific time)

Cannabis is one of the safest substances on Earth. Alcohol is toxic to every organ system in our bodies. It is a narcotic and is of no value. Why is alcohol legal and cannabis illegal? That makes no sense.


Alex August 23, 2009 7:58 pm (Pacific time)

Good informative article. It's amazing how it's not legalized yet, even though research pretty much screams that pot is less harmful than alcohol in many many ways, yet has some positive sides to it. Lets see here, pot actually helps you health in some aspects, and actually prevents and fights cancer, whereas Alcohol, which is more harmful, has little to no positive sides to it. Just legalize it already.


Norman Lepoff, M.D. retired August 23, 2009 9:34 am (Pacific time)

Cannabis is one of the safest substances on Earth. Alcohol is toxic to every organ system in our bodies. It is a narcotic and is of no value. Why is alcohol legal and cannabis illegal? That makes no sense.


Cannabis user August 21, 2009 7:57 pm (Pacific time)

Interesting. Although at this point I'm not surprised. Pot's uses, and benefits are limitless.


Kristin August 21, 2009 12:11 pm (Pacific time)

Just a quick correction, The book made it to #14 on the top 100 bestsellers. Great article!

Editor: Kristin, that is now reflected in the article, thanks!

 

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