Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chronic cocaine use may speed up aging of brain

Date:
April 24, 2012
Source:
University of Cambridge
Summary:
New research suggests that chronic cocaine abuse accelerates the process of brain aging. The study found that age-related loss of gray matter in the brain is greater in people who are dependent on cocaine than in the healthy population.

New research by scientists at the University of Cambridge suggests that chronic cocaine abuse accelerates the process of brain aging. The study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, found that age-related loss of grey matter in the brain is greater in people who are dependent on cocaine than in the healthy population.

For the study, the researchers scanned the brains of 120 people with similar age, gender and verbal IQ. Half of the individuals had a dependence on cocaine while the other 60 had no history of substance abuse disorders.

The researchers found that the rate of age-related grey matter volume loss in cocaine-dependent individuals was significantly greater than in healthy volunteers. The cocaine users lost about 3.08 ml brain volume per year, which is almost twice the rate of healthy volunteers (who only lost about 1.69 ml per year). The accelerated age-related decline in brain volume was most prominent in the prefrontal and temporal cortex, important regions of the brain which are associated with attention, decision-making, and self-regulation as well as memory.

Previous studies have shown that psychological and physiological changes typically associated with old age such as cognitive decline, brain atrophy and immunodeficiency are also seen in middle-aged cocaine-dependent individuals. However, this is the first time that premature aging of the brain has been associated with chronic cocaine abuse.

Dr Karen Ersche, of the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute (BCNI) at the University of Cambridge, said: "As we age, we all lose grey matter. However, what we have seen is that chronic cocaine users lose grey matter at a significantly faster rate, which could be a sign of premature aging. Our findings therefore provide new insight into why the cognitive deficits typically seen in old age have frequently been observed in middle aged chronic users of cocaine."

The scientists also highlight concerns that premature aging in chronic cocaine users is an emerging public health concern. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that cocaine is used by up to 21 million individuals worldwide, with approximately 1 per cent of these individuals becoming dependent.

Dr Ersche said: "Our findings clearly highlight the need for preventative strategies to address the risk of premature aging associated with cocaine abuse. Young people taking cocaine today need to be educated about the long-term risk of aging prematurely."

The concern of accelerated aging is not limited to young people but also affects older adults who have been abusing drugs such as cocaine since early adulthood.

Dr Ersche added: "Our findings shed light on the largely neglected problem of the growing number of older drug users, whose needs are not so well catered for in drug treatment services. It is timely for heath care providers to understand and recognise the needs of older drug users in order to design and administer age-appropriate treatments."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cambridge. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons license. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K D Ersche, P S Jones, G B Williams, T W Robbins, E T Bullmore. Cocaine dependence: a fast-track for brain ageing? Molecular Psychiatry, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2012.31

Cite This Page:

University of Cambridge. "Chronic cocaine use may speed up aging of brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424095948.htm>.
University of Cambridge. (2012, April 24). Chronic cocaine use may speed up aging of brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424095948.htm
University of Cambridge. "Chronic cocaine use may speed up aging of brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424095948.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study by British researchers suggests couples' sleeping positions might reflect their happiness. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins