Marijuana and Memory

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Story Updated: Dec 17, 2013

Teenagers who start smoking marijuana early and often may be doing serious damage to their growing brains.

Researchers followed 97 teens who started smoking pot daily between 16 and 17 years of age...and continued for about three years. At the time of the study, they had been marijuana free for about two years.

Using MRI...the team was able to look deep into the brains of each participant to assess any abnormalities in the area that controls memory.

Excessive, daily marijuana was found to change the brain...actually shrinking memory related structures.

Participants also did poorly on memory tests, backing up what was seen on the scans. The younger the marijuana abuse began, the more abnormal the brain appeared.

In fact, some of the brain changes actually looked those found with schizophrenia.

Researchers say marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug and young adults have the highest prevalence of use.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the news that can help you stay healthy, happy, and fit.

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit www.excellusbcbs.com