New Research Suggests Non-Medical Cannabis Use Among Adults Aged 45 And Over Is Linked To A Significantly Lower Risk Of Cognitive Decline

A recent study has revealed an intriguing link between cannabis and lower cognitive decline risk. The research conducted by scientists at SUNY Upstate Medical University found that adults aged 45 and older who use cannabis for non-medical reasons appear to have a notably lower risk of experiencing subjective cognitive decline (SCD).

SCD describes a situation in which individuals notice their own memory loss or confusion becoming worse or more frequent, which can be an early indicator of potential cognitive issues and dementia.

The team analyzed data from the 2021 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a national health survey in the U.S. Their research examined how different factors related to cannabis use – such as the reasons for using it, how often it’s used, and the methods of consumption – affect the occurrence of subjective cognitive decline in more than 4,700 adults of middle-age or older.

Remarkably, the study showed that individuals who used marijuana for non-medical purposes had a 96% lower likelihood of reporting subjective cognitive decline (SCD) compared to non-users, even after accounting for various demographic, health, and lifestyle factors.

This suggests that recreational cannabis users are significantly less likely to observe declines in memory and cognitive function than those who do not use cannabis.

Although the use of medical marijuana and the use of cannabis for both medical and non-medical purposes were linked to a reduced risk of subjective cognitive decline (SCD), these findings were not statistically significant.

Furthermore, the frequency of cannabis use and the methods of use—whether smoking, eating, or vaping—did not seem to influence the likelihood of experiencing subjective cognitive decline.

This has led the researchers to suggest several different possible explanations behind the study’s findings. One key factor might be Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component in marijuana that causes the “high.” There is evidence from some animal studies suggesting that very low doses of THC could enhance cognitive function in aged mice. However, whether these effects carry over to humans still needs more investigation.

An additional factor to think about is that many individuals use cannabis, especially cannabidiol (CBD) – a non-psychoactive compound – to address sleep issues and manage stress, which are both known risk factors for cognitive decline later in life.

sepy – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

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