February 7, 2014
Brain Damage Caused By Heavy Marijuana Use
There is always the argument that marijuana is not harmful like other drugs and that it is okay to use it. A study conducted by a team of researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 2009 may prove those people wrong. The study showed that young teens who are heavy marijuana smokers during the adolescent stage of growth can actually harm and disrupt the growth of the brain. ScienceDaily released an article about the study and while the article does a great job of explaining the study, it also makes the reader realizes that the study has some flaws.
The young adult, or teen, is part of the adolescent stage. During this stage the brain undergoes a crucial period for development and maturation. If the brain does not finish growing in the adolescent stage it can lead to a loss or malfunction of that person’s many skills. The study the researchers did to prove this was to take 14 subjects from a drug treatment center that all had history of regular marijuana use in adolescence (ages 13-19). They also take 14 healthy subjects that are the same age as the marijuana users. The research team used magnetic resonance imaging scan called DTI, diffusion tensor imaging. This machine scans and measures the water movement throughout the brain. Concluding the study from the DTI the one of the researchers, Manzar Asharti, said that, “The abnormal patterns of water diffusion that we found among the young men with histories of marijuana use suggest damage or an arrest in
development of the myelin sheath that surrounds brain cells.” (Asharti) When Asharti refers to there being an insufficient amount of myelin, he is referring to the white matter in the brain. Myelin is what gives that matter its color. When the development of myelin is abnormal, which in this cause is caused by smoking marijuana, it could possibly slow down the pace at which the brain transfers...
Cited: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Heavy Marijuana Use May Damage Developing Brain in Teens,
Young Adults.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2009.
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