Pot Could Actually Improve Brain Function for Middle Aged Men
The latest study about marijuana published in the American Journal of Epidemiology this week suggests that cannabis may improve cognitive functioning in middle aged males.
The study was not small. The researchers from King’s College in London looked at 8,992 men that used illicit drugs at age 42. For the research, they took a second look at that group when they turned 50. What researchers found was that when given tests to determine cognitive functioning, the drug users fared a bit better than most. The study on all those participants found a positive association with past and or current illicit drug use on cognitive functioning.
They did look at drug users in general, and the study asked about the use of 12 illicit drugs. By far, more than 70 percent, marijuana was the most common substance that was used among the identified drug users in the study. The participants were from a UK national health study.
The cognition tests they took were standard tests of memory and attention along with other cognitive abilities. Overall, the study found no evidence that showed current or past drug use had a negative effect on mental performance. When the drug users data was lumped together, the surprising finding was that the drug users as a group tested higher on average.
But, the researchers said that the advantage was small and might reflect another finding, that people who use drugs generally have a higher education level than non-users. A small subset of the participants who said that they had been treated for drug use, which may suggest more of an addiction, or very heavy use, did not fare as well cognitively at 50, but researchers say the subset was too small to draw a meaningful conclusion.
Researchers did caution that heavy or long term use of any illicit drugs may still be bad for brain function. Past studies have found that marijuana and cocaine can cloud thinking, affect memory and attention span, but the current finding add support that those effects may only be temporary.