Cigarettes, Not Cannabis, Linked to Lower IQ In Teens
Lower IQ and poorer performance in education were often thought to be symptoms of cannabis use; however, new studies show it could actually be tobacco slowing progress amongst teens.
We've all been victim to the stereotypical stoner portrayal; often slow, forgetful teens who stare longingly into the distance. Coupled with over-zealous media attention, you'd be forgiven for thinking that cannabis rots the brain whilst you laze about playing video games on a diet of pizza and snacks. Well, the tide may have finally turned with the latest studies showing that tobacco could be the bigger benefactor in lower IQ levels amongst teens.
In a recent study conducted by the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children Cohort (ALSPAC), it was found that cannabis use in teens had no significant detrimental effects on IQ when compared with similar teens who had never reported trying the drug. This latest study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology presented some very interesting findings, contradicting some of the previous studies performed on this topic.
Previously a study released in 2012 by PNAS, claimed that the persistent use of cannabis in adolescence had a degenerative effect on IQ when compared with applicants who had not used the drug, proving particularly harmful in users who started at an earlier age.
However, the study conducted by the ALSPAC showed when socio-economic factors are taken into account, those who had used cannabis more than 50 times did not differ in IQ or educational performance from adolescents who have never used the drug. Over 2200 teenagers took part in the study, with IQ test's performed at the age of 8 and then later at 15 years old. Of this age group, 24% reported having tried cannabis at least once by the age of 15. Cigarette and alcohol use, childhood mental-health symptoms and behavioural problems were all adjusted as potential variables.
Further analysis showed stronger links between cigarette use and poorer educational performance overall, even with the cannabis users excluded. The simple fact being that the use of cigarettes or more importantly, nicotine, in teens had a greater diminishing effect on IQ and educational performance when the other components were factored out.
This new study shows some very encouraging results when the use of cannabis is so widely scrutinized. The age old stereotype and the image often portrayed by the media could soon be a thing of the past, instead allowing a more unbiased view of the effects of cannabis to take place. However, this study is not without some flaws. When we consider that over 90% of cannabis users in this study mix tobacco with their weed, it makes defining the different effects each substance has on IQ somewhat more difficult to judge. To further explore the impact of cannabis use on IQ, we would have to compare the data of cigarette smokers versus cannabis users who took the substance without the aid of nicotine.
One small step for the cannabis user, one (slightly) larger step for cannabis culture.
Written by: Lucas
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