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Ricaurte's MDMA Neurotoxicity Study
A Summary of Dr. Karl Jansen's Comments
by Earth

Positron emission tomographic evidence of toxic effect of MDMA ('Ecstasy') on brain serotonin neurons in human beings,
by U. D. McCann; Z Szabo; U Scheffel; R.F. Dannals; G. A. Ricaurte
The Lancet Vol 352, Oct 31, 1998, 1437




During an interview on the BBC World television channel on Friday 30th, London psychiatrist Karl Jansen offered comments on the Ricaurte Study, which are summarized below.

Jansen first commented that the subjects in the study were all tested for psychiatric problems and were found to be normal and thus the experiment itself demonstrated that the measured neurochemical changes did not cause any measured problem. He said that experiments with rats have shown high dose MDMA brain changes do not result in measured behavioural changes and that MDMA exposed rats cannot be differentiated from controls.

Dr Jansen said that recreational MDMA use may cause brain changes, but there is no evidence so far of depression or anxiety as long term side effects of use.

He also pointed out that the suggested possible problems are much less severe than the known problems of alcoholism which includes: gross brain atrophy, major depression, increased suicide rate, memory problems, among others.

Jansen expressed concerns that the subjects cited in the study were selected from a group of possible cases and were not 14 randomly chosen individuals. He was concerned that the subjects he and Nicholas Saunders had introduced to Ricaurte weren't mentioned at all, individuals who had taken over one thousand "E" pills and yet were given a clean bill of health.

Dr. Jansen also commented that the experiment did not mention the possibility that the low levels of transporters could have been pre-existing and that its possible that people with lower levels may be predisposed to drives to take drugs like MDMA or seek stimulation in other ways.

He suggested that there may be some evidence to support this hypothesis in data which associates alcoholism with genetic differences in dopamine receptors and that these same differences may manifest themselves differently in different people, making some more adventurous.