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Controversial study links cannabis use to accelerated brain aging

Saturday, Oct 20, 2018

Read more from Healthline: Can Zapping People’s Brains Really Reduce Violent Behavior?

The idea is that, at a given age, your body and organs should look and function a certain way and the brain is no different.

The effects of different conditions on the brain — such as substance use or mental disorders — can cause brains to age prematurely, resulting in lower cognitive function, declining memory, and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Using SPECT imaging technology and looking at blood perfusion (blood flow) in the brain, the researchers compared what they saw to the actual chronological age of the brain and established a “brain estimated age,” — how much the brain appeared to have aged.

Blood perfusion in the brain is known to change over time, and the researchers contend that using it as a biomarker could “powerfully predict chronological age and will vary as a function of common psychiatric brain disorders.”

The conditions they studied as drivers of brain aging included dementia, ADHD, major depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, traumatic brain injury, schizophrenia, alcohol use disorder, and cannabis use disorder.