If you’re a man of child-bearing age, here’s yet another reason to stop using marijuana. A new study suggests that smoking pot can cause a number of genetic changes to your sperm and this could possibly impact your fertility as well as the health of your offspring.
For the Duke University study, researchers examined the genetic material in the sperm of 24 men who self-reported smoking pot at least weekly in the past six months. These men didn’t use tobacco products. Based on the urine samples, they found that the higher the THC levels the more changes to the ways in which genes are expressed. Not surprisingly, the men who smoked pot also had lower sperm concentration in general, compared to men who rarely or never used the drug.
In both rats and humans, the cannabis affected many different genes involved in two different pathways: One that helps organs to reach full size and one that plays a role in cancer and suppressing tumors.
“What we have found is that the effects of cannabis use on males and their reproductive health are not completely null, in that there’s something about cannabis use that affects the genetic profile in sperm,” said study author Scott Kollins in a statement. “We don’t yet know what that means, but the fact that more and more young males of child-bearing age have legal access to cannabis is something we should be thinking about.”
The fact that there’s been increasing THC levels in pot overtime is another reason to take these results into consideration. According to the researchers, THC levels increased from roughly four percent to 12 percent between 1995 and 2014.
The takeaway: While more research is underway, it certainly can’t hurt for men trying to conceive to lay off the pot. In addition to protecting the health of your sperm and offspring, you’ll be lessening your risk for addiction.
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