As the boomers hit the age where Alzheimer's begins to show itself, it may be that if "they smoked marijuana in the '60s and '70s they don't get the disease, because of that behavior," said Dr. Wenk.
He based the assertion on research he and colleagues have done with rats, not usually known for developing Alzheimer's, nor for that matter, for smoking marijuana.
But as the animals age, Dr. Wenk said, they develop inflammation in parts of the brain analogous to the parts damaged by inflammation in people with Alzheimer's.
Recent research in other fields suggested that cannabinoids -- the active ingredients in marijuana -- can cross the blood-brain barrier, even at low doses, and can reduce inflammation, Dr. Wenk said.
So, in young rats, Dr. Wenk and colleagues created brain inflammation by infusing nanogram quantities of lipopolysaccharide and then treated them with a synthetic cannabinoid called WIN-55212-2.
"We saw an 80% to 90% drop in the inflammation in the brain," he said, "and also the impairment in memory that inflammation produces could be reversed."
There are so many good jokes here, I don't know where to begin....