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Young people who give up pot see rapid improvement in memory, ability to learn

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Adolescents and young adults who regularly use cannabis but stop for 30 days have better memory and an improved ability to learn compared to peers who continue to smoke, vape or ingest pot, a study has found.

The study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital focused on two broad areas of cognitive function — attention and memory — in a group of 16- to 25-year-olds who were regular users of cannabis, indulging at least once a week.

Roughly two-thirds of the 88 subjects were randomly assigned to abstain from weed for 30 days, while the remainder continued routine use. Researchers completed regular assessments of thinking and memory of participants during the 2015-16 study period.

Frequent urine tests were given to verify those in the no-cannabis group had stayed away from the drug. Almost 90 per cent met the criteria for 30 days of continuous abstinence.

“Our findings provide two pieces of convincing evidence,” said lead author Randi Schuster, director of neuropsychology at the Center for Addiction Medicine at the Boston hospital.

New research from Health Canada finds teens and young adults use cannabis more than any other groups in Canada. (Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)

“The first is that adolescents learn better when they are not using cannabis,” she said. “The second — which is the good news part of the story — is that at least some of the deficits associated with cannabis use are not permanent and actually improve pretty quickly after cannabis use stops.”

That improvement occurred largely during the first week of abstinence, say the authors, whose research was published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

However, the study found no difference in attention — the ability to remain focused on a visual task, for instance — between the two groups by the end of 30 days.

Schuster said there are a number of potential reasons, including the possibility that a longer period of abstinence is needed to see a reversal of attention deficits that occur with marijuana use.

Cannabis use highest among people in their early 20s

The research was published on the same day as Health Canada released the latest national data on tobacco, alcohol and drug use among Canadians aged 15 and older, which shows that use of cannabis is highest among youth aged 15 to 19 years (19 per cent) and young adults aged 20 to 24 (33 per cent).

The study authors note that adolescence and young adulthood are critical times for brain development, specifically for brain regions that are most susceptible to the effects of cannabis, in particular the psychoactive ingredient THC.

A 2016 study from the same research team found that cannabis users aged 16 and under had difficulty learning new information, a problem that was not observed in that study among users aged 17-plus.

“When I see these data, I get worried that regular use in young users may negatively impact their ability to achieve at their highest potential,” Schuster said from Boston. “One of my big concerns is how this plays out in a classroom and is it keeping them from achieving and learning?”

Larger follow-up studies coming

Dr. Romina Mizrahi, a clinician-scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, called the Boston research “important.”

“What was particularly surprising to me is the fact that these young people who are using cannabis were only (using it) at least weekly, which suggests that even … what you would call weekend recreational use is associated with some impairments, which are improved following abstinence,” she said Tuesday.

Schuster said there are still a lot of questions to be studied, including whether attention might improve and memory would continue to be enhanced with longer periods of cannabis avoidance.

In Ontario, the only legal way to purchase cannabis is online. Visitors to the government’s online cannabis store must first enter their birth date to confirm they’re older than 19. The age is then verified using identification upon delivery. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Those are issues that will be addressed in two larger follow-up studies her team is conducting, including one that will look at younger participants — aged 13 to 19 — and a group that has never used cannabis, to help determine whether cognitive improvements produced by abstinence return participants to performance levels similar to those of non-users.

A second trial will follow young cannabis users who abstain for six months, investigating whether cognition continues to improve beyond 30 days and if those improvements can affect school performance.

Academic success may hang in the balance 

The ability to learn or “map down” new information is a critical facet of success in the classroom, Schuster said.

“Young cannabis users who stop regular — weekly or more — use may be better equipped to learn efficiently and therefore better positioned for academic success,” she said.

“We can confidently say that these findings strongly suggest that abstaining from cannabis helps young people learn, while continuing cannabis use may interfere with the learning process.”

Mizrahi agreed, saying that it’s crucial that young people understand that their brains are still developing until about age 25, and that cannabis can interfere with the system that regulates that maturation process.

“In other words, you’re affecting the building blocks of the final brain architecture,” she said. “So it’s dangerous when your brain has not yet fully developed, because it may not fully develop as it would have had young people not used cannabis.”

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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