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  • Monthly Speaker - Dr. Fortanasce - Alzheimers & Marijuana, a Social Experiment

Monthly Speaker - Dr. Fortanasce - Alzheimers & Marijuana, a Social Experiment

  • 09/20/2017
  • 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
  • Advanced Depositions, 17752 Sky Park Circle, Ste 100, Irvine, CA 92614

Alazheimers & Marijuana

Dr. Fortanasce, MD -

Marijuana and Alzheimers, a Social Experiment

By Vincent Fortanasce M.D.board-certified neurologist

Alzheimers and Marijuana use have striking similarities both Neuro anatomically and symptomatically.

Recent medical journals note chronic users of marijuana in particular  (TCH) have reduced volume in the hippocampus, the region of the brain primarily responsible for memory and learning.

 In Alzheimer’s disease we have also observed reduced hippocampus volume with increased B-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. We see the same problems with memory in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and chronic/heavy cannabis users. It is plausible that with the heavy use of high potency cannabis combined with poor diet, lack of exercise, and lack of sleep that we may very well be creating a new perfect storm for Alzheimer’s disease.

Socialization is essential to resist Alzheimer's disease .  In 2 studies done by the National Institute of health( NIH )  found that the one common denominator in those patients who pathologically seem to have Alzheimer's disease but clinically did not was their social contacts. Those who resisted Alzheimer's disease had at least eight or more social contacts. Marijuana promotes isolation and a decrease in socialization. It does not promote lifestyle change and in fact it has the opposite effect, making users more apathetic and distracted. Rather than waiting 20 to 30 years to see the devastating results of marijuana use on our youth, we need to make smarter choices in the present moment to reduce the widespread abuse of marijuana  and it's deleterious effect on the brain and our youth's psyche. Permitting marijuana use is nothing but a social experiment. This is a drug no different than others that must be carefully studied by the federal drug administration( FDA ).

 How can  society be so cavalier in permitting our youth to use marijuana ,when it is clear from a neurological and research standpoint that cannabis is dangerous. The literature notes In those individuals under 24 years it distorts the normal architecture of the brain especially those areas dealing with motivation and learning.

Clinically  marijuana has not been  studied to the extent that is needed to OK its use in the general population.

 Marijuana is not candy, it is dangerous , it has destroyed the brains of many of our youth already. Most of those advocating its use are already under its influence, they are addicted and worse they are unaware of it. Others smart enough not to use drugs see it as a great opportunity to make a dollar on those dumb enough to use it.


Ashtari M, Avants B, Cyckowski L, Cervellione KL, Roofeh D, Cook P, Gee J, Sevy S, Kumra S. Medial temporal structures and memory functions in adolescents with heavy cannabis use. J Psychiatr Res. 2011 Aug;45(8):1055-66. Epub 2011 Feb 5. PubMed PMID: 21296361.

Batalla A, Bhattacharyya S, Yücel M, Fusar-Poli P, Crippa JA, Nogué S, Torrens M, Pujol J, Farré M, Martin-Santos R. Structural and functional imaging studies in chronic cannabis users: a systematic review of adolescent and adult findings.  PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55821. Epub 2013 Feb 4. Review. PubMed PMID: 23390554

Battistella G, Fornari E, Annoni JM, Chtioui H, Dao K, Fabritius M, Favrat B, Mall JF, Maeder P, Giroud C. Long-term effects of cannabis on brain structure. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Aug; 39(9):2041-8. Epub 2014 Mar 17. PubMed PMID: 24633558

de Flores R, La Joie R, Chételat G. Structural imaging of hippocampal subfields in healthy aging and Alzheimer's disease. Neuroscience. 2015 Nov 19;309:29-50. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.08.033. Epub 2015 Aug 22. Review. PubMed PMID: 26306871.

Frisoni GB, Ganzola R, Canu E, Rüb U, Pizzini FB, Alessandrini F, Zoccatelli G, Beltramello A, Caltagirone C, Thompson PM. Mapping local hippocampal changes in Alzheimer's disease and normal ageing with MRI at 3 Tesla. Brain. 2008 Dec;131(Pt 12):3266-76. PubMed PMID: 18988639.

Schuff N, Woerner N, Boreta L, Kornfield T, Shaw LM, Trojanowski JQ, Thompson PM, Jack CR Jr, Weiner MW; Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. MRI of hippocampal volume loss in early Alzheimer's disease in relation to ApoE genotype and biomarkers. Brain. 2009 Apr;132(Pt 4):1067-77. PubMed PMID: 19251758.


Trained in psychiatry at the Institute of Living, a Yale Affiliate Hospital; in Neurology at University of Southern California (USC); and in Neurological and Orthopedic Rehabilitation at the prestigious Rancho Los Amigos Hospital; Dr. Vincent Fortanasce is a Clinical Professor of Neurology at USC, a renowned bio-ethicist, author, and radio show host with twenty years experience dealing with medical issues on a national and international level. His rehabilitation center was ranked in the top 10 on the West Coast in 2003, and Dr. Fortanasce was selected as in the top 100 physicians in Los Angeles County and Best Physicians in the USA. Over the past decade, he has treated such notables as the Dali Lama and Pope John Paul II, Tommy Lasorda and Sylvester Stallone.

Dr. Fortanasce’s career is multifaceted having been a noted athlete and inducted into the Little League Hall of Fame with other notables such as President George W. Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, and actors Kevin Costner and Tom Selleck. As an Olympic athlete, Dr. Fortanasce was a gold medal winner in the 1961 Junior Olympics. Also, he was a black belt international champion in karate, a member of the varsity wrestling and baseball team at Seton Hall, a tennis singles champion at Yale Medical, and a tennis doubles champion at USC Medical.

Dr. Fortanasce has appeared on 60 Minutes, the Diane Sawyer Show with Mel Gibson, CNNs Paula Zahn NOW, the Charles Grodin Show (debating Jack Kevorkian), Hard Ball with Chris Matthews, the Dr. Phil Show, Dateline, the Today Show, and ABC national news, as well as numerous cable and local programs. Frequently sought out as a medical expert, Dr. Fortanasce is a regular spokesperson for the California Medical Association at the Senate and Legislature assemblies. He’s been quoted in an assortment of publications including The New Yorker, Time Magazine, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Washington Review, USA Today, U. S. News and World Report, Sports Illustrated, and other well-respected newspapers and magazines. Dr. Fortanasce’s worldwide syndicated radio program, St. Joseph’s Radio Presents, Mother Angelica Network EWTN, has an audience of more than 170,000 and is heard throughout most of the United States, Canada, Australia, Africa, and Europe.

As an empathetic voice of reason in the debate over end of life issues, Dr. Fortanasce recently talked to the nation about the highly controversial stem cell debate in a televised interview for ABC national news, which was shown primetime on January 4, 2007. Drawing on a diverse background, including neurology, psychiatry, and brain rehabilitation, Dr. Fortanasce has been a Rehabilitation Director for twenty-five years and is an assistant professor for both the School of Biokinesiology and the Department of Neurology at the University of Southern California (USC).

As a board certified neurological rehabilitation specialist (board certified 1992, 77th neurologist to be certified in the United States), Dr. Fortanasce has also served as Director of the San Gabriel Valley Hospital Unit under Daniel Freeman Hospital in Los Angeles. He’s lectured widely from the Institute of Living at Yale to schools across the nation and was twice named Outstanding Lecturer of the Year at University of Southern California School of Medicine. Dr. Fortanasce has published numerous articles in professional and medical journals, along with writing six successful trade books: The Anti-Alzheimer’s Prescription (Penguin), End Back & Neck Pain (Human Kinetics), Life Lessons from Little League with Orel Hershiser (Doubleday), Life Lessons from Soccer (Simon & Schuster), the American Youth Soccer Official Organizational Handbook (Simon & Schuster), and Life Lessons from Little League Revisited with commentary from Tommy Lasorda and a forward by Mike Scoscia, manager of the world champion 2002 Angels (Doubleday).

Finally, Dr. Fortanasce is a compassionate husband, father, and healthcare specialist who has personally experienced the agony of Alzheimer’s disease in his own family. His father died from Alzheimer’s disease; his mother (age 99) is successfully fighting the disease. He is one of the few medical authorities who can give this brain-robbing disease a clear reality check, blending his years of academia and clinical experience with real-world insight gained while coping with his own father’s dementia and his mother’s cognitive decline. His profound interest in improving the lives of the elderly has led him to protect “the right to life,” with persuasive and empathetic appearances about aging and Alzheimer’s disease on television and radio, in public debates, in lectures, and at private gatherings.

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