How THC Could Damage The Growth Of Our Grandkids

It's only natural that when a drug or substance sees wide-ranging use across a population, people will want to learn more about the different effects. With more and more Americans having legal and regular access to cannabis, the microscope of science, which has always kept an eye on the plant, seems to have found something of note in men's reproductive health.

Swimming low and slow

Duke University researchers discovered that THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, alters the expression of hundreds of genes, including some involved with male ammunition.

In a trial of 24 males of child-bearing age including both regular cannabis users and non-cannabis users, the team at Duke found that the observed changes in genetics went hand in hand with the urine samples containing the most THC.

Marijuana and baby making

The researchers found most of the affected genes lie in two critical cellular pathways. Both are involved in human growth, with one interacting with organs and the other with regulating growth during childhood development.

"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," Scott Kollins, the study's senior author and professor of psychiatry at Duke said in a university news release.

An emerging field

Another member of the Duke research team, Susan Murphy said they plan on conducting a much larger study to see if the altered genes can be passed on through a man's semen if such changes can be reversed following a halt in cannabis use.

"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."

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