Marijuana use affects sperm, new Duke research suggests

During the last several years, marijuana use has increased, as medical cannabis has become legalized in 33 U.S. states. 

New research from Duke suggests that its use can alter the DNA of sperm.

Susan Kay Murphy, associate professor in obstetrics and gynecology, and Scott Kollins, professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, recently published findings of a study to determine if cannabis has effects on reproduction. The research was focused on determining if pre-conceptional exposure to cannabis alters the epigenetics of sperm.

Twenty-four men—twelve cannabis users and twelve non-users—were enrolled and participated in the study. Data was then collected and sequenced on participants’ genomic profiles to determine if cannabis alters the DNA methylation of its users.

“DNA methylation is a type of epigenetic modification,” Murphy said. “We all have DNA methylation in our cells. The methylation is the addition of a carbon and three hydrogen atoms—little molecular tags—to the DNA at specific bases.”

In certain regions

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