THC affects the genetic profile of sperm
Cannabis use can affect sperm genetic profiles, a recent research team suggested in a recent study. The researchers were able to prove that the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) triggers structural and regulatory changes in the DNA of the sperm. It was also shown that the higher the THC concentrations in the urine of the men, the more massive the changes.
Researchers from the Duke Unicersity School of Medicine recently conducted a study to show that the active ingredient THC contained in cannabis changes the DNA of human sperm. The consequences on reproduction and whether these changes are passed on has not yet been clarified. The study results were recently published in the journal Epigenetics.
Does cannabis reduce fertility?
As a broader group of people has access to the active ingredient THC as part of the legalization of medical cannabis, medical and scientific interest in the plant is also increasing - both in the United States and in Germany. For example, the active ingredient THC is said to help against severe pain, loss of appetite or depression. On the other hand, cannabis is suspected of lowering male reproductive ability or promoting genetic psychological disorders. In a recent study, the Duke research team was able to prove for the first time that THC affects the genetic makeup of sperm.
Cannabis modifies the genome
In both rats and humans, the researchers were able to prove that THC changes the tiny methyl groups attached to sperm DNA. This process is called DNA methylation. This is a chemical change in the basic building blocks of the genetic material. However, since the basic structure of the DNA is preserved, this change is not a mutation but a modification. According to the researchers, it is not yet known whether this genetic modification can be reversed or passed on to children.
What do these changes do?
"We don't yet know what that means, but the fact that more and more young men of childbearing age have legal access to cannabis is something we should think about," says lead study author Professor Dr. Scott Kollins in a press release on the study results.
The more cannabis, the stronger the DNA change
The study examined the sperm of 24 men who had used cannabis at least once a week in the past six months. "The higher the THC concentration in the urine of men, the more pronounced were the genetic changes in their sperm," write the researchers.
Can cannabis cause stunted growth?
Professor Susan K. Murphy, who was also involved in the study, reports that THC appears to affect hundreds of different genes, all of which could be assigned to two strands. One of the strands is involved in helping body organs reach their full size. The other strand contains a variety of genes that regulate growth during development. "We just don't know what that means for a child's development," Murphy sums up.
Number of participants too small
According to the researchers, this study should rather be seen as a starting point for further research, since the number of participants was too small to make general statements. The team is now planning a large-scale study on the subject. In the meantime, Murphy advises: "As a precaution, I would say that you should not use cannabis for at least six months before trying to conceive a baby." (Vb)