Teen cannabis use may damage brain for life, warns major study
Fears that drug 'rewires' adolescent minds as scientists find persistent smoking reduces IQ
Teenagers who smoke cannabis regularly could be permanently damaging the development of their brain and are likely to end up with significantly lower IQ scores than teenagers who do not use the illicit drug, a major study has found.
People who started smoking cannabis as adolescents were found at the age of 38 to be still suffering from a drug habit they had started more than 20 years earlier, scientists said.
The study suggests that weekly cannabis use before the age of 18 results in an average decline in IQ score of eight points, which is enough to move someone of average intelligence into a category that is well below average.
The study used data gathered from a cohort of 1,037 children born in 1972-73 in Dunedin, New Zealand. IQ tests carried out when they were 13 were compared with IQ tests completed when they were 38.
"Research has shown that IQ is a strong determinant of a person's access to a college education, their lifelong total income, their access to a good job, their performance on the job, their tendency to develop heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and even early death," Dr Meier said.
"Individuals who lose eight points in their teens may be disadvantaged, relative to their same-age peers, in most of the important aspects of life and for years to come."
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