Controversial study links cannabis use to accelerated brain aging

www.salon.com
Date:
Saturday, Oct 20, 2018

A new study has identified cannabis, alcohol, and certain mental disorders as primary drivers of brain aging.

Billed as the largest known brain imaging study, utilizing more than 60,000 SPECT scans, the research looks impressive.

It also supports an enticing prospect: being able to look at images of the brain to see whether or not it’s prematurely aging.

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But experts have called the research into question over the methodology, which has a long history of criticism among members of the medical community.

The study

The research was conducted by Dr. Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist who runs Amen Clinics which specializes in SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography), as well as scientists from Google, UCLA, and Johns Hopkins University.

In total, the team analyzed 62,454 SPECT scans of more than 30,000 patients ranging in age from under 1 year to 105 years old. The scans used for the study were all drawn from patients at Amen’s clinics.

“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,” said lead author Daniel Amen.

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