The drug reduces the brain of women but not men



Men and women are not equal facing the consequences of drug abuse on their health. According to a US study drug reduced brain volume in women but not men.

Many studies have shown that women are more susceptible than men to alcohol and drugs and their long-term effects: disease, liver damage, etc. And the brain is no exception, according to a study published online in the journal Radiology.

Denver University researchers have tried to determine how the effects of drug abuse differ by gender. And they discovered that drug abuse can reduce brain volume in women but not in men.

Gray matter loss

The scientists analyzed the brain structure imaging by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of 127 men and women:
– 59 people (28 women and 31 men) had been addicted to cocaine, amphetamine or methamphetamine during 15.7 years on average.
– 68 healthy individuals (28 women and 40 men)

“We found that women who were previously dependent had a volume of gray matter significantly lower in different brain areas compared to healthy women,” said lead author of the study, Jody Tanabe. After 13.5 months on average abstinence, MRI women who were addicts has shown a much smaller volume of gray matter in the frontal regions, temporal and limbic brain. These areas are important for decision making, emotion, reward processing and memory.

Very uneven men and women to drugs

“While there was a noticeable loss in cerebral former dependent women compared to non-dependent women, no difference was observed in men,” said Dr. Tanabe. Compared to men, women tend to start cocaine or amphetamines at a younger age, degree of dependence is growing quickly, they have more difficulty in stopping and, once processed, they consume more drugs, in search of treatment, compared to using large amounts of these drugs.

“We hope our results will lead to a more thorough investigation of the gender differences in substance dependence and, therefore, more effective treatments,” concluded Dr. Tanabe.