Persistent, dependent use of marijuana before age 18 has been shown to cause lasting harm to a person’s intelligence, attention and memory, according to a study in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.
Among a long-range study cohort of more than 1,000 New Zealanders, individuals who started using cannabis in adolescence and used it for years afterward showed an average decline in IQ of 8 points when their IQs were compared at ages 13 and 38. Quitting pot did not appear to reverse the loss either, said lead researcher Madeline Meier, a post-doctoral researcher at Duke University.
The key variable in this is the age of onset for marijuana use and the brain’s development, Meier said. Study subjects who didn’t take up pot until they were adults with fully-formed brains did not show similar mental declines. Before age 18, however, the brain is still being organized and remodelled to become more efficient, she said, and may be more vulnerable to damage from drugs.
Preclinical studies have shown that aspirin and other anticoagulation medications may inhibit cancer growth and metastasis, but clinical data have been limited previously. The study looked at almost 6,000 men in a database who had prostate cancer treated with surgery or radiotherapy. Some 2,200 were taking anticoagulants.
The findings demonstrated that 10-year mortality from prostate cancer was significantly lower in those taking anticoagulants, compared to the non-anticoagulant group — 3 per cent versus 8 per cent, respectively. The risks of cancer recurrence and bone metastasis also were significantly lower. Further analysis suggested that this benefit was primarily derived from taking aspirin, as opposed to other types of anticoagulants.
But new research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics points to a handful of behavioural changes that can help. They include eating fewer desserts, meats and cheese, drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages and eating more fruits and vegetables.
“If the goal is to reduce the burden of obesity, the focus must be on long-term strategies because changes in eating behaviours only associated with short-term weight loss are likely to be ineffective and unsustainable,” concludes lead investigator Bethany Barone Gibbs from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Health and Physical Education.
“People are so motivated when they start a weight loss program. You can say, ‘I’m never going to eat another piece of pie,’ and you see the pounds coming off. Eating fruits and vegetables may not make as big a difference in your caloric intake. But that small change can build up and give you a better long-term result, because it’s not as hard to do as giving up French fries forever.”