Study: THC in cannabis linked to genetic mutations in sperm

Today I learned that using cannabis can lower a fella's sperm count: those looking to partake in parenthood should take note. But that's not the only thing that cannabis can do to your swimmers. According to scientists from Duke University, using marijuana can cause genetic changes to sperm cells--something that could have far-reaching consequences for any baby a dude might father.

From The Verge:

For a study published today in the journal Epigenetics, scientists at Duke University compared the sperm of two groups of rats: those who had been given tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and those who had not. Then they compared the sperm of 24 human men who smoked marijuana weekly versus a control group who used marijuana no more than 10 times in their life and not at all in the past half-year. In both cases — rats and humans — marijuana changed how genes work in sperm cells.

In both rats and humans, the cannabis affected many different genes involved in two different pathways. (Think of pathways as another set of instructions, this time for regulating various bodily functions.) One is important for organs to reach full size, and one plays a role in cancer and suppressing tumors.

Before anyone loses their shit, this doesn't mean that any kid you conceive while THC is coursing through your body will be more likely to get cancer. A lot more research needs to be conducted before any firm conclusions can be drawn. As The Verge points out, there were no laboratory controls on how much THC was consumed by the test subjects. Additionally, the sample groups used were very small.

Still, the implications of enjoying a few tokes that the study suggest as pretty grim. It's a bit of scientific exploration that's likely worth keeping an eye on.

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