Ecstasy does not cause brain damage
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There is no evidence that ecstasy causes brain damage, according to one of the largest studies into the effects of the drug.
Too many previous studies made over-arching conclusions from insufficient data, say the scientists responsible for the research, and the drug's dangers have been greatly exaggerated.
The finding will shock campaigners who have claimed ecstasy poses a real risk of triggering brain damage. They have argued that it can induce memory loss, decrease cognitive performance and has long-lasting effects on behaviour.
The study was carried out by a team led by Professor John Halpern of Harvard Medical School and published in the journal Addiction last week. Funded by a $1.8m grant from the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, it was launched specifically to avoid methodological drawbacks that have bedevilled previous attempts to pinpoint whether or not ecstasy users suffer brain damage.