Study Finds Alcohol is Worse for Your Brain Than Cannabis

Flickr / Franklin Heijnen / CC BY-SA 2.0

Is alcohol worse for your brain than cannabis? According to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, the answer is yes.

For years cannabis advocates have argued that cannabis is a safer substance than alcohol but have only had anecdotal evidence to support such claims. Some scientific research has been conducted, but results have been mixed, thus further muddying the waters.

“When you look at these studies going back years,” study co-author Kent Hutchison told Medical News Today, “you see that one study will report that marijuana use is related to a reduction in the volume of the hippocampus. The next study then comes around, and they say that marijuana use is related to changes in the cerebellum … . The point is that there’s no consistency across all of these studies in terms of the actual brain structures.”

In an effort to avoid inconsistencies, researchers conducted a new analysis by measuring the brain’s gray matter volume and white matter integrity. Researchers noted that a reduction in either gray matter volume or white matter integrity would result in impaired brain functions.

Researchers scanned the brains of 853 adults between the ages of 18 and 55 and 439 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18. Researchers found that adults who had been drinking for a number of years saw a reduction in both gray matter volume and white matter integrity.

Cannabis users, on the other hand, saw no such impact on gray matter volume and white matter integrity, regardless of age. Researchers concluded that alcohol is worse for your health than cannabis, but stopped short of saying cannabis consumption is beneficial.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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