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Exposure to cannabis alters the genetic profile of sperm | Science Daily

Exposure to cannabis alters the genetic profile of sperm | Science Daily

As legal access to marijuana continues expanding across the U.S., more scientists are studying the effects of its active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in teens, adults and pregnant women.

New research from Duke Health suggests men in their child-bearing years should also consider how THC could impact their sperm and possibly the children they conceive during periods when they’ve been using the drug.

Much like previous research that has shown tobacco smoke, pesticides, flame retardants and even obesity can alter sperm, the Duke research shows THC also affects epigenetics, triggering structural and regulatory changes in the DNA of users’ sperm.

Experiments in rats and a study with 24 men found that THC appears to target genes in two major cellular pathways and alters DNA methylation, a process essential to normal development.

The researchers do not yet know whether DNA changes triggered by THC are passed to users’ children and what effects that could have. Their findings will be published online Dec. 19 in the journal Epigenetics.

Source: Exposure to cannabis alters the genetic profile of sperm | Science Daily

 

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