As the legalization of marijuana increases, a number of research teams continue to dive into the benefits and harms of the drug. Interestingly enough, a recent study reveals that alcohol may end up doing more damage on brain health than pot.
A team stemming from the University of Colorado Boulder recently conducted a study reviewing imaging data, taking a close look at how alcohol and marijuana affect a person’s brain. Their results concluded that alcohol is linked to long-term changes when it comes to the white matter and gray matter structure of a person’s brain; while cannabis had no major long-term impacts on a brain’s structure.
Medical News Today revealed that as past studies offered little in consistency when it comes to brain structures and how marijuana affects them, the research team had a goal of closing the gap on this and conducted a review via existing brain imaging data. They took a close look at how the drug affects the gray and white matter in the brain and compared it to another substance the public has grown (quite) familiar with, which is alcohol.
The tissue on the surface of a brain which consist mostly of nerve cell bodies is gray matter, while white matter lies deeper within brain tissue. The study team stated that the size reduction of either gray or white matter or a loss in their veracity would lead to impairment when it came to brain function. As the team noted, its been known for decades that alcohol is bad for the brain, but little is known about cannabis.
The team reviewed over 850 brain images of adults stemming from 18 years of age to 55, as well as over 430 teenage participants from 14 to 18 years of age. All of those involved had varied uses when it came to marijuana and alcohol.
The team discovered that alcohol consumption, especially for those adults who had been drinking for some years, were linked to a gray matter volume reduction, as well as a decrease in veracity of white matter.
It appeared that marijuana use had zero impacts to white or gray matter structure in either adults or the teens who participated in the study. As such, the team believes that alcohol consumption is more likely to be harmful to one’s brain health, versus cannabis.
Having said that, the team still feels that additional research is needed when it comes to the potential benefits of the drug.