While there are obvious risks to the use of ecstasy, research shows the repeated use of this drug also significantly raises the risk of developing sleep apnea in young adults who have no other health issues.
This finding is from a new study by Johns Hopkins scientists. The researchers note that sleep apnea itself can lead to a variety of health problems, including a decline in cognitive function, an increased risk of diabetes and an increased risk of death from heart disease.
“We know that abusing drugs can have numerous harmful effects. Our findings show yet another reason not to use ecstasy,” said lead researcher Una D. McCann, M.D.
For those who favor the drug, they claim it enhances intimacy, diminishes anxiety and facilitates some forms of psychotherapy. These individuals must evaluate these new findings and determine if such perceived benefits outweigh the associated risks.
In previous studies, this research team has linked ecstasy to a full range of neurological problems, including subtle cognitive deficits, impulsive behavior and altered brain wave patterns during sleep. The use of this drug also shortens the ends of nerve cells, preventing them from making normal connections.
Even without drug use, sleep apnea has its own known risk factors, such as older age, obesity and other medical conditions. In this study, however, of the 24 ecstasy users who were diagnosed with sleep apnea, 22 were 31 and younger and none of them had any known serious medical problems.
“Our subjects were otherwise healthy young adults, so this is a very surprising finding,” McCann said.