New research on marijuana and reproductive health released

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Duke Health releases a study on how THC affects sperm

There have been studies that show that cannabis is an aphrodisiac and can enhance the sexual experience. While this might make some marijuana opponents want to run to the nearest dispensary, they need to step on the brakes first. As research into marijuana continues to grow and uncover a lot of positive attributes, there are also some reasons to tread lightly. A recent study indicates that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) could affect male sperm, leading to complications. 

Just like tobacco smoke, obesity, flame-retardants and pesticides can alter the chemical composition of sperm, a research project led by Duke Health indicates that the presence of epigenetics in THC can trigger regulatory and structural changes, as well. However, the researchers still don’t know if those changes could be passed on to the children.

According to Scott Kollins, Ph.D., a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University and senior author of the research, “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. 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 study only included a small group of participants and more research is needed. Explains Murphy, “We know that there are effects of cannabis use on the regulatory mechanisms in sperm DNA, but we don’t know whether they can be transmitted to the next generation. In the absence of a larger, definitive study, the best advice would be to assume these changes are going to be there,” Murphy said. “We don’t know whether they are going to be permanent. I would say, as a precaution, stop using cannabis for at least six months before trying to conceive.”