A new study conducted by the University of Lausanne, Switzerland says that prolonged use of marijuana can lead to verbal memory loss in middle age. With medical marijuana being easily accessible in almost all the US states and reforms proposed to legalize recreational pot, the recent study reports call for more caution on the part of the lawmakers as well as the regular users of weed.
According to the researchers, long time use of pot can damage at least one kind of brain function. Although it can cause poorer performance on the verbal memory tests, it does not seem to have any effect on other functions of the brain. Dr. Reto Auer, lead author of the study, said that they were not expecting that there would be such a consistent association between chronic cannabis exposure to verbal memory loss.
The study also took into consideration the effect of other factors such as alcohol and cigarette use on the behavioral factors on the brain function.
Marijuana users lose ability to recall words
The study indicates that a person consistently exposed to marijuana for long period loses his ability to recall certain words. For every five years of use of marijuana, the researchers found, at least, one or two people could not recall a few words from the list of 15 words.
A 25-year US study data on young adults was analyzed to derive this conclusion. The data included people with repeated exposure to marijuana for prolonged time. They were asked to undergo a verbal standardized test to detect word memory, executive function and processing speed in 25 years. Data from more than 3,500 participants was collected and used for the standardized tests.
When the study period started during the 1980s, the participants were in between 18 to 30 years old almost 80% reported using marijuana in the past. However, only 12% continued to use the weed even in their middle age says the results in JAMA Internal Medicine.