Does Marijuana Increase Dementia Risk?
A recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease warns that marijuana use may increase the risk for Alzheimer's. According to researchers, cannabis reduces blood flow to several areas of the brain, including the hippocampus—the area associated with learning and memory and the primary area affected by Alzheimer's disease.
As marijuana becomes increasingly legalized for recreational and medicinal use in the United States, it's important to determine the potential harmful effects of the drug. This new study indicates that reduced blood flow in the brain may be one such adverse effect.
Researchers used single photon emission computed tomography to measure blood flow and brain activity in 982 people diagnosed with marijuana use disorder and 92 healthy control subjects while at rest and while performing a mental task. Compared to the controls, blood flow in the brain was significantly reduced in marijuana users, suggesting marijuana may have damaging effects on the brain. The greatest reduction in blood flow was observed in the right hippocampus as the study participants completed the mental task.
Image Credit: Thinkstock