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Cannabis damages young brains more than originally thought, study finds

Date:
December 20, 2009
Source:
McGill University Health Centre
Summary:
The damaging effects of the illicit drug Cannabis on young brains are worse than originally thought, according to a psychiatric researcher. A new study suggests that daily consumption of cannabis in teens can cause depression and anxiety, and have an irreversible long-term effect on the brain.

Daily consumption of cannabis in teens can cause depression and anxiety, and have an irreversible long-term effect on the brain.
Credit: iStockphoto/Rasmus Rasmussen

Canadian teenagers are among the largest consumers of cannabis worldwide. The damaging effects of this illicit drug on young brains are worse than originally thought, according to new research by Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, a psychiatric researcher from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. The new study, published in Neurobiology of Disease, suggests that daily consumption of cannabis in teens can cause depression and anxiety, and have an irreversible long-term effect on the brain.

"We wanted to know what happens in the brains of teenagers when they use cannabis and whether they are more susceptible to its neurological effects than adults," explained Dr. Gobbi, who is also a professor at McGill University. Her study points to an apparent action of cannabis on two important compounds in the brain -- serotonin and norepinephrine -- which are involved in the regulation of neurological functions such as mood control and anxiety.

"Teenagers who are exposed to cannabis have decreased serotonin transmission, which leads to mood disorders, as well as increased norepinephrine transmission, which leads to greater long-term susceptibility to stress," Dr. Gobbi stated.

Previous epidemiological studies have shown how cannabis consumption can affect behaviour in some teenagers. "Our study is one of the first to focus on the neurobiological mechanisms at the root of this influence of cannabis on depression and anxiety in adolescents," confirmed Dr. Gobbi. It is also the first study to demonstrate that cannabis consumption causes more serious damage during adolescence than adulthood.

Dr. Gabriella Gobbi is a researcher at the neuroscience axis of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and also a psychiatrist and associate professor at the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University.

This study was funded by a grant from The Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation (CPRF)

This article was co-authored by Dr. Francis Rodriguez Bambico; Ms. Nhu-Tram Nguyen, and Mr. Noam Katz from from IR-MUHC and the Neurobiological Psychiatry Unit, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University Health Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

McGill University Health Centre. "Cannabis damages young brains more than originally thought, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091217115834.htm>.
McGill University Health Centre. (2009, December 20). Cannabis damages young brains more than originally thought, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091217115834.htm
McGill University Health Centre. "Cannabis damages young brains more than originally thought, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091217115834.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

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