Know the Facts - Change the Law

Know the Facts - Change the Law
Life - Liberty - Pursuit of Happiness

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dead athletes' brains show damage from concussions – Compare reality to the undocumented claims that ganja use causes mental health issues

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We are all familiar with one of the top reasons given lately for maintaining prohibition, that despite a complete lack of documentation that proves that anyone has actually been made mentally ill by using ganja, that somehow using ganja might cause one mental health issues. This claim is unproven hogwash.

The claim is based completely on dubious meta-studies (academic exercises that never look at actual people that are likewise based on other academic studies not based on actual people).

While I am not saying for an instant that sports should be outlawed, I think this actual study, based on actual injuries in actual people puts a more rational perspective on ganja prohibition claims. Everything humans do has some sort of risk associated with it, whether it is playing any sports all of which are inherently dangerous, driving cars, skiing, drinking beer, or simply walking down the sidewalk.

What I want to examine more closely is putting those risks into a relative relationship. For instance, I would say that based on growing concrete evidence of the dangers of having one’s child play football in some cases as early as 8 years old, smoking ganja entails far fewer concrete risks than playing football, relatively.

For now, let’s examine the growing evidence of one of the very real dangers of playing football. So far, and I am not going to make overblown claims of how pervasive this particular issue is but clearly it is a major issue, it appears that pretty much anyone who plays football any time in their lives is probably going to get brain damage from continually thinking that a helmet is providing any real protection and as a result acting invincible.

While CTE in an ex-NFL player's brain may have been expected, the beginnings of brain damage in an 18-year-old brain was a "shocking" finding, according to Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, and co-director of the CSTE.

"We think this is how chronic traumatic encephalopathy starts," said McKee. "This is speculation, but I think we can assume that this would have continued to expand."

CTE has thus far been found in the brains of six out of six former NFL players.

"What's been surprising is that it's so extensive," said McKee. "It's throughout the brain, not just on the superficial aspects of the brain, but it's deep inside."

CSTE studies reveal brown tangles flecked throughout the brain tissue of former NFL players who died young -- some as early as their 30s or 40s.

McKee, who also studies Alzheimer's disease, says the tangles closely resemble what might be found in the brain of an 80-year-old with dementia.

"I knew what traumatic brain disease looked like in the very end stages, in the most severe cases," said McKee. "To see the kind of changes we're seeing in 45-year-olds is basically unheard of."

The damage affects the parts of the brain that control emotion, rage, hypersexuality, even breathing, and recent studies find that CTE is a progressive disease that eventually kills brain cells.

Dead athletes' brains show damage from concussions - CNN.com

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