Ecstasy & Brain Damage Link Challenged
Thursday, September 20, 2001Ecstasy might not cause brain damage and could even be safer than legal drugs such as Prozac, a leading US scientist claimed this week. "Any chemical known to damage the brain has caused an increase in GFAP (acid protein) and we don't see that response with MDMA," said Dr James O'Callaghan from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He also said that brain changes caused by using MDMA were less than those recorded by users of Reserpine, a prescription (legal) drug used in the US to treat hypertension.
'Reserpine is just as neurotoxic as MDMA, if you equate neurotoxicity with serotonin decrease,'' the Doctor said. ''But if you look at damage as defined by loss of structure, you don't see it with MDMA, even in whopping doses.''
Speaking to New York's venerable listings title the Village Voice, Dr O'Callaghan suggested that MDMA poses similar levels of risk to legal seratonin-based drugs like Prozac and Adderall, a prescription amphetamine doled out to up to 2 million US school kids daily (to treat attention deficit disorder.)
"If MDMA does indeed cause brain damage by pruning the neuronal pathways, then a whole host of serotonin agents, including Prozac and Adderall, could be rewiring, and thus damaging, our brains," The Voice reported.
Scare adverts placed by the Government backed National Institute on Drug Abuse, that purported to show brains damaged when under the influence of ecstasy, were also misleading, the doctor suggested. ''I'm not saying that MDMA isn't bad. I'm just saying that there's no evidence that it destroys serotonin neurons," he said.