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Pubdate: Mon, 28 Sep 2009
Source: Tufts Daily (MA Edu)
Copyright: 2009 Tufts Daily
Author: Derek Schlom
New Study Explores Possible Benefits Of Marijuana For Binge Drinkers
A controversial new study found that smoking marijuana may improve brain functions.
Before you down that fifth shot of Jagermeister, you might want to fire up a joint. Research shows that compared with alcohol, marijuana causes less brain damage.
In a study completed at the University of California, San Diego, the results of which were published in the current issue of the scientific journal "Neurotoxicology and Teratology," researchers examined the white brain matter of 42 teenage participants. The participants were placed into three groups: those classified as binge drinkers (defined in this case as males who consume five or more drinks in one sitting and females who consume four or more), binge drinkers who also smoked marijuana "regularly" and a control group of those who neither drank nor smoked.
The binge drinkers displayed lower fractional anisotropy (FA) scores - indicating white brain matter damage - in all eight sections of the brain than the control groups, whereas the second group (those who also smoked marijuana) had lower FA scores than the control in only three sections. Additionally, in a finding the researchers termed "surprising," the second group had higher FA scores than the first in seven of the brain sections.
So, how are the experts reacting to these findings? Mason Tvert, co-author of "Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?" and executive director of the marijuana legalization advocacy group Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, sees validation in the results.
I find it ironic that marijuana can actually protect you from alcohol," he said. "It's just one more way in which marijuana is safer than alcohol, and I hope this dispels the myth that marijuana kills brain cells when it's actually protecting brain cells from damage. Marijuana gives a temporary euphoric effect, whereas binge drinking causes long-term permanent damage."