SEP 25, 2020 8:01 AM PDT

Does Cannabis Affect Brain Health in Older People?

WRITTEN BY: Angela Dowden

Demographic data shows rising cannabis use among older people, so what is the likely effect on cognitive function and brain health in this group? Animal research doesn't seem to bode well, with one study finding that rats exposed to THC for 30 percent of their lifespan suffer a level of brain cell loss at 12 months of age that equals that of unexposed animals twice their age.

Encouragingly though, a new human study seems to show no cause for alarm—in this case, those consuming cannabis for chronic pain showed no differences in cognitive performance as compared to non-users of cannabis, also with chronic pain.

Published in the journal Drug & Alcohol Review, the study assessed the cognitive capabilities of 63 long-term medical cannabis consumers versus 62 non-using controls. (Medical cannabis is available on prescription in Israel, but the patient must hold a license allowing them to receive it.)

Participants, averaging 61 years, were set a battery of cognitive tests by the investigators , who assessed participants’ memory recall, reaction time, and ability to learn new information, among other parameters.

Their results found no significant differences in cognitive performance between those using medicinal cannabis and those not using it. In addition, the researchers found “no significant associations of various aspects of medicinal cannabis use patterns, including [tetrahydrocannibinol/cannabidiol] concentration, frequency and length of use, dosage and length of abstinence with cognitive performance were detected.”

Moreover, the researchers added, both groups of patients with chronic pain—those who used cannabis and those who did not—performed similarly to a standardized population with no chronic pain.

The results have been published the same month as another study that also appears to show no harm of cannabis to brain health. Published in the Canadian Geriatrics Journal this  review concluded, “low-dose, short-term medical cannabis does not carry significant risk of serious mental health and cognitive adverse effects in older adults without prior psychiatric history.”

Sources: NORML, Pub Med

 

About the Author
  • I'm a journalist and author with many year's experience of writing for both a consumer and professional audience, mostly on nutrition, health and medical prescribing. My background is food science and I'm a registered nutritionist.
You May Also Like
SEP 30, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
How Babies Look at Objects Linked to Future Autism Diagnoses
SEP 30, 2021
How Babies Look at Objects Linked to Future Autism Diagnoses
At nine months old, most babies have started moving around independently and are curiously exploring the exciting new wo ...
OCT 01, 2021
Microbiology
Understanding How the Gut Microbiome is Affected by Temperature
OCT 01, 2021
Understanding How the Gut Microbiome is Affected by Temperature
The gut microbiome has become an area of intense research focus in recent years. Genomic tools have enabled scientists t ...
OCT 08, 2021
Microbiology
'Living Medicines' to Destroy Dangerous Biofilms
OCT 08, 2021
'Living Medicines' to Destroy Dangerous Biofilms
Bacteria that grow in colonies can be extremely difficult to eliminate; the bacteria in these groups often become resist ...
OCT 15, 2021
Health & Medicine
Over Half of Patients Infected in the Pandemic Experience 'Long COVID'
OCT 15, 2021
Over Half of Patients Infected in the Pandemic Experience 'Long COVID'
About 236 million people are known to have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVD-19. Researchers hav ...
OCT 17, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Genes That Cause Disease Seem to Prevent Beneficial Adaptations
OCT 17, 2021
Genes That Cause Disease Seem to Prevent Beneficial Adaptations
A new study has used computational tools to investigate evolution in the human genome that's occurred over the past 50,0 ...
OCT 19, 2021
Health & Medicine
Acupuncture and Manual Therapy for Tension Headache: What's the Verdict?
OCT 19, 2021
Acupuncture and Manual Therapy for Tension Headache: What's the Verdict?
As if women didn't have enough to juggle with careers, motherhood, and monthly hormonal changes, cue the tension hea ...
Loading Comments...