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A recent study discovered a link between non-medical cannabis use and reduced risk of subjective cognitive decline (SCD) in adults aged 45 and above. SCD involves self-reported deterioration in cognitive abilities like memory and confusion, often indicating potential cognitive impairment or dementia.

Non-medical cannabis users have low risk of subjective cognitive decline

The study conducted by researchers at SUNY Upstate Medical University and published in Current Alzheimer Research analyzed data from the 2021 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The study, carried out by Zhi Chen and Professor Roger Wong, investigated the connection between different aspects of cannabis use and subjective cognitive decline in over 4,700 middle-aged and older adults.

Researchers found that individuals who used marijuana for non-medical purposes had significantly lower odds of reporting subjective cognitive decline (SCD) compared to non-users. This association remained strong even after adjusting for various factors. The study did not find statistically significant relationships between SCD risk and medical marijuana use or using cannabis for both medical and non-medical reasons. The frequency of cannabis use and the method of consumption did not appear to affect the odds of subjective cognitive decline.

Low levels of TH enhances cognitive function

The researchers suggest that the unexpected finding could be explained by several potential mechanisms. They propose that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, might be involved. Animal studies suggest that very low doses of THC could enhance cognitive function in older mice, but more research is needed to determine if this effect extends to humans.

Many individuals utilize cannabis, specifically CBD, to address sleep problems and stress, both linked to cognitive decline later in life. Improved sleep and reduced stress from non-medical cannabis use might lead to better cognitive health outcomes.

According to Professor Wong, the main point is that cannabis may have cognitive protection benefits. However, he emphasizes the importance of conducting longitudinal studies to gain a better understanding of this topic. The current study only provides a snapshot of 2021, and it is uncertain whether non-medical cannabis use leads to better cognition or if individuals with better cognition are more likely to use non-medical cannabis.