A new study reveals that the cannabis plant can reprogram sperm genes.
We already know that cannabis reduces the number of spermatozoa. But new research suggests that the plant causes genetic modifications on the sperm itself ... which could have implications for the health of a potential baby ...
New study reveals that cannabis impairs the genetic profile of spermatozoa.
Scientists from Duke University have compared sperm from two groups of rats: those who received tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and those who did not have it.
Next, they compared the sperm on a group of 24 people who smoked cannabis each week, to that of a control group that smoked little or nothing (10 times in their lives) ...
In both cases - rats and humans - cannabis has changed how genes work in sperm.
DNA is like a list of instructions for making proteins, and genes. These subsets of data complement a person's genetic profile.
Out, our body has small chemical labels (called methyl groups) that are added to the DNA in specific regions, explains Susan Kay Murphy, professor of gynecology and co-author of the study.
These chemicals do not mutate the genes themselves. But they affect the way they are used ... like the following of instructions that are followed and which ones are not.
In rats and humans, cannabis has affected many different genes involved in two different pathways. One is important for the organs to reach their maximum size, and the other plays a role in cancer and tumor suppression.
"It hurts me," says Murphy. "How to reconcile the fact that, from a biological point of view, a whole path will be affected by these changes?"
Implications of THC
This does not mean that smoking cannabis will make future children more vulnerable to cancer.
This is a pilot study that originally aimed to determine if cannabis even has a genetic effect on sperm. The sample is so small and they did not take into account the concentration of THC that human recruits were smoking ...
Scientists, however, measured the presence of THC in the urine and noted that more THC affects sperm ...
The opinion of an expert in urology
"This is a smaller study, but with disturbing implications," explains Bobby Najari, urologist at NYU Langone, who did not participate in the study.
Najari already advises men who regularly consume cannabis to reduce their consumption because of the effect on the number of spermatozoa ...
"I think one of the important positive things about research like this is that it can motivate more men to change their health," he says. "It's one thing to talk about the number of sperm, it's another when we talk about the potential health of the child."
Najari and Murphy both emphasize that future research is needed. The Duke team is already working on follow-up studies. Are these changes reversible? Will they even end up affecting a potential baby?
"I want to be very careful that the results do not become what they are not," says Murphy. "It's not to scare people. Our goal is to learn more about biology and its possible effects. "
Cannabis is medical in essence. This new study proves once again that the plant interacts with the human endocannabinoid system receptors (CB2) and rightly so.
Any unnecessary excess is necessarily damaging, as would any medication ...