Cocaine Cut With Anti-Worming Drug May Cause Brain Damage

THURSDAY, Nov. 8, 2018 — Cocaine is often cut with the anti-worming drug levamisole — and the combination is linked to brain damage, Swiss researchers report.

“We can assume from our findings that it is not just cocaine that changes the brain, but that the adulterant levamisole has an additional harmful effect,” said research leader Boris Quednow, from the University of Zurich.

“The sorts of cognitive impairment often exhibited by cocaine users may therefore be exacerbated by levamisole,” Quednow said in a university news release.

Cocaine is the second-most used illegal substance worldwide after marijuana. Local anesthetic agents, painkillers, caffeine and other substances are often added to street cocaine, the researchers said in background notes.

In Europe and the United States, levamisole is a common additive, possibly because it may increase or prolong cocaine’s effects, Quednow and his colleagues suggested.

The researchers analyzed hair samples to determine levels of cocaine and levels of levamisole in study participants. They ended up comparing 26 cocaine users with low levamisole exposure, 49 cocaine users with high levamisole exposure, and 78 people using no drugs.

In tests of mental and thinking skills, regular cocaine users scored worse on attention, working memory, long-term memory, and other mental functions compared to people who didn’t use cocaine. But those whose cocaine was cut with levamisole performed worst of all, according to the study.

Moreover, brain scans linked higher levamisole levels with impaired thinking and a thinned prefrontal cortex. This indicates levamisole has a toxic effect on the brain, the researchers concluded.

Although the study didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, the authors called on public health officials to expand their drug-checking programs.

“Such programs mean users can have their drugs tested for purity and therefore avoid taking cocaine that has very high levels of levamisole,” Quednow said.

The findings were published recently in Translational Psychiatry.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about cocaine.

Posted: November 2018

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The dirty air affects the brain

The research conducted by scientists from Shanghai, proved that dirty air affects the human brain, provoking the development of various diseases of the body the Central nervous system. First of all, autism in children and Alzheimer’s disease appears in old age.

Chinese ecologists have studied information about the health of 1,5 thousand juveniles and compared them with data on airborne in Shanghai carbon particles of different density. Experts have found that over 85% of children diagnosed with autism for three years or more lived in urban areas with the highest concentration of toxic substances in the environment. The scientists also identified: often impurities in the air affecting the brain, and inadequate levels of environmental provoked the development of the mentioned pathology in the age interval from 2 to 3 years. According to researchers, environmental toxins damage the immune system of infants, and the consequences of this became apparent in the preschool and school age.

Moreover, a new study has confirmed the connection of the inhaled dirty air and the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease. If there is a high level of fine dust, the main sources are automobile exhaust and smoke from factories, it’s in 90% of cases is the cause of old age dementia. The said particles are very small, and therefore easily pass through the upper respiratory tract, freely into the body. They also provoke the development of asthma, bronchitis and heart attacks.

To avoid dementia, the researchers recommend that, in addition to the choice of residence is with fresh air, diet with plenty of vitamins, give up alcohol and tobacco, to protect the nervous system, a good night’s sleep and daily physical activity.