By RxPG News Service, [RxPG] London, Nov 29 - Intake of the illegal drug ecstasy, even small amounts, could harm the brain of a first time user, says a new study.
A team led by Maartje de Win of the University of Amsterdam took brain scans and carried out memory tests on 188 people with no history of ecstasy use but at risk in future, reported the online edition of BBC News.
They repeated the tests 18 months later and found evidence of decreased blood flow and memory loss in 59 people who had used the drug.
'We do not know if these effects are transient or permanent. Therefore, we cannot conclude that ecstasy, even in small doses, is safe for the brain,' said Win.
Half a million Britons reportedly take ecstasy each week, mostly in night clubs, though it's long-term harmful effects are already known.
Research has shown that long-term or heavy ecstasy use can damage neurons and cause depression, anxiety, confusion, difficulty sleeping and decrease memory.
However, no previous studies have looked at the side effects of low doses of the drug on first time users.
Said Win: 'We know long-term use has a lasting impact, so it makes sense that damage starts as soon as someone starts to use the drug.
'But we cannot say exactly how much damage is sustained at the start and need more research to be categorical about this.'