Marijuana Use Among Young Adults Increases, While Tobacco Use is Down
Marijuana use among young adults ages 18 to 22 is on the rise, while tobacco use is down, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
People who are both smokers and heavy drinkers have a faster decline in brain function, compared with those who don’t smoke and who drink moderately, a new study suggests. Smoking and heavy drinking is associated with a 36 percent quicker decline in cognitive function.
The 10-year study of almost 6,500 adults ages 45 to 69 found mental decline accelerates the more alcohol a person consumes, according to HealthDay. The study considered heavy drinking to be more than 14 drinks a week for women, and 21 for men.
“Current advice is that smokers should stop or cut down, and people should avoid heavy alcohol drinking,” lead researcher Dr. Gareth Hagger-Johnson of University College London said in a news release. “Our study suggests that people should also be advised not to combine these two unhealthy behaviors — particularly from midlife onwards. Healthy behaviors in midlife may prevent cognitive [mental] decline into early old age.”
The researchers assessed participants’ mental function, including verbal and math reasoning, short-term verbal memory and verbal fluency, three times during the study.
“When we looked at people who were heavy-drinking smokers, we found that for every 10 years that they aged, their brains aged the equivalent of 12 years,” Hagger-Johnson said. “From a public health perspective, the increasing burden associated with cognitive [mental] aging could be reduced if lifestyle factors can be modified, and we believe that people should not drink alcohol more heavily in the belief that alcohol is a protective factor against cognitive decline.”
The findings appear in the British Journal of Psychiatry.