Cocaine Eats Up Brain Twice as Fast as Normal Aging - Yahoo! News Cocaine may speed up the aging of the brain, according to new research that finds that people who are addicted to the drug lose twice the brain volume each year as non-drug users. As the brain ages, it inevitably loses gray matter, the part of brain tissue made up of neuron cell bodies. Loss of gray matter is linked with many of the signs of old age, including memory problems and other declining cognitive abilities, said study researcher Karen Ersche, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge. Middle-age cocaine-dependent people show many of the signs of aging, including cognitive decline, Ersche told LiveScience. To look at the underlying cause, she and her colleagues used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure gray matter volume in 60 adults with cocaine dependence and 60 adults without substance-use troubles who were similar to the cocaine-abusing volunteers in age, gender and verbal IQ. They found that cocaine-dependent adults showed twice the gray matter loss as their healthy counterparts: 3.08 milliliters per year in cocaine users versus 1.69 milliliters per year in people without substance abuse. [Best Games to Keep Your Brain Sharp] The results held true even after those cocaine users who were also alcohol-addicted (16 individuals) were removed from the analysis, pointing to the drug as a cause. Although it's not possible to experiment on the human brain, animal studies suggest that cocaine-related brain atrophy may be related to oxidative stress, Ersche said. Oxidative stress is caused by the production of unstable molecules called reactive oxygen species; when the body can't remove these molecules or repair the damage they cause, disease can result. Last time the white house doctor examined obama, didn't he recommend obama cut down on the booze?