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Lack of hippocampal volume change in long-term heavy cannabis users.

Tzilos GK, Cintron CB, Wood JB, Simpson NS, Young AD, Pope HG, Yurgelun-Todd DA

Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory, Brain Imaging Center, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA 02478, USA.

The effects of cannabis smoking on the morphology of the hippocampus are still unclear, especially because previous human studies have examined primarily younger, shorter-term users. We used magnetic resonance imaging to investigate these effects in a group of 22 older, long-term cannabis users (reporting a mean [SD] of 20,100 [13,900] lifetime episodes of smoking) and 26 comparison subjects with no history of cannabis abuse or dependence. When compared to control subjects, smokers displayed no significant adjusted differences in volumes of gray matter, white matter, cerebrospinal fluid, or left and right hippocampus. Moreover, hippocampal volume in cannabis users was not associated with age of onset of use not total lifetime episodes of use. These findings are consistent with recent literature suggesting that cannabis use is not associated with structural changes within the brain as a whole or the hippocampus in particular.

Published 4 April 2005 in Am J Addict, 14(1): 64-72.
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