In an article posted in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of health scientists, it reported a study at Duke University compared sperm in rats. One group of rats was given tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana and the other group of rats was given nothing.
The scientists then looked at the sperm of 24 human men who stated they smoked marijuana weekly and a control group who did not use marijuana more than the examined the sperm of men who did not smoke marijuana more than 10 times in their entire lifespan and did not use in the past 6 months.
In the cases of both humans and rats, it was observed that marijuana changed in sperm cells how genes work.
Co-author of the study and Professor of Gynecology at Duke University Susan Murphy stated that DNA is a list of instruction that state how to make protein. The human body has methyl groups which are small chemical tags. These tags are added to DNA. These particular chemicals don’t change the composition of the actual gene, but they do change the way the gene is used.
The marijuana affected many different genes in both the humans and the rats in two different pathways. Pathways regulate the functions of the body that helps suppress tumors and stops Cancer.
Murphy stressed that it does not mean that smoking marijuana will cause people to become more susceptible to become inflicted with Cancer. She also stated that studies’ intent was to see if marijuana had an effect on sperm. This was also a pilot study with a small sample size and there was no control of the amount of marijuana and the THC in the marijuana which was smoked. However, the scientists did measure in urine the amount of THC present and the higher the amount of THC in the urine increased the number of changes in the body.
Bobby Najari who is a urologist at NYU Langone Hospital stated that even though this was a small study, the implications obtained are concerning. Najari counsels men are regular marijuana users and help them cut back because of the effect that marijuana has on their sperm count.
Najari stated that he thinks that an important aspect of this type of research is that it may help motivate men to think more about their health and make changes pertaining to it.
Najari and Murphy stat that more research needs to be done on this subject and presently Duke University is working on further studies that will be more comprehensive in nature. These studies will look at if the changes in the body are reversible. Also, they will examine if the effect on sperm from marijuana usage can have any effect of a baby that may come in the future.
Murphy wanted to stress that coming forward with the results of this study are not meant to scare those who smoke marijuana. The intent is to learn more about the biological changes caused by smoking marijuana and what those effects might be on the human body.