Researchers at the University of California, San Diego investigated the long-term effects of cannabis use on cognitive function in 297 HIV-infected older adults. the study Ultimately, participants who had used cannabis occasionally showed better cognitive performance than those who never used cannabis.
The research results were published in a journal AIDS and behavior.
Cannabis, Cognition and HIV: An Understudied Issue
While pointing to the prevalence of cannabis as a treatment for common health conditions, the researchers nodded at the lack of research on cannabis use and cognitive decline, especially among older adults. .
Participants consisted of frequent cannabis consumers who used cannabis multiple times per week, occasional cannabis consumers who used cannabis less than once per week, and non-users. Researchers assessed participants’ cognition for up to 10 years to examine the effects of average and recent cannabis use on global cognition, global cognitive decline, and functional independence.
Ultimately, the study authors determined that participants with occasional cannabis use performed best among the three groups.
“In a long-term well-characterized cohort of HIV-infected older adults, we found that occasional cannabis use later in life was associated with improved global cognitive function compared with no cannabis use. “We found that we were doing that, which is a potentially important finding given the increased vulnerability to cognitive impairment in this population,” the researchers said.
“Furthermore, frequent cannabis use was not associated with overall cognitive deterioration in follow-up studies. It suggests that it is not even a factor.”
‘No evidence’ that cannabis use affects cognitive decline
The researchers also found that frequent cannabis use was not associated with cognitive decline throughout the study period. Specifically, they said, “rates of cognitive decline and functional problems did not change with average cannabis use.”
The researchers noted that recent cannabis use was associated with worsening cognitive function at the time of the study visit, especially if participants’ uremia was THC-positive. However, according to the study, this short-term cognitive decline was due to memory impairment and did not extend to reports of functional decline.
In their conclusions, the researchers said the study was the first, to their knowledge, to characterize long-term patterns of current cannabis use and overall cognitive performance in HIV-infected older adults. pointed out there is.
“We found no evidence that cannabis use affects the risk of cognitive decline,” the researchers said. “We will examine this positive finding to determine whether cannabinoids have therapeutic potential to treat chronically elevated neuroinflammation and reduce downstream cognitive problems in HIV-infected individuals.” requires further mechanistic studies.”
Add Literature to Look Forward
The effects of cannabis on cognition in general are not a new research topic, but they can be a little complicated to approach.one study Similarly, they noted that cognitive effects are usually dependent on frequency of use and length of time since last cannabis exposure. Specifically, working memory is significantly impaired after acute cannabis exposure, and these deficits were found to be reversed by continued abstinence.
“The long-term effects of cannabis on executive functioning are most clearly demonstrated in studies of chronic heavy users rather than occasional light cannabis users,” the researchers said. .
However, up to one-third of people living with HIV examine the relationship between cannabis and HIV-infected adults, which is certainly a topic worth exploring. reported Using cannabis to treat symptoms. Other studies have found that cannabis “ beneficial intervention reducing inflammation-related morbidity” and “new tools to reduce morbidity and mortality” for people living with HIV.
Looking ahead, researchers believe that “the effects of specific cannabinoid doses on cognition and biological mechanisms in older adults need to be investigated to inform safe and effective medical cannabis use.” ‘ said.