Use the cannabis with intense but short-term vaporized exposure of the substance has reduced sperm count and slowed sperm movement, or motility, not only in directly exposed male mice, but even in their offspring. This was stated in their research by a group of experts from the Washington State University.
The results of the study have been published in the scientific journal Toxicological Sciences.
Cannabis and male fertility: this is what research has revealed
The study builds on other human and animal studies, showing that cannabis can hinder male reproductive function. The current study uses more controlled circumstances than human studies, which often have to rely on polls, and is the first known reproductive study to use vaporized whole cannabis on mice, which is the most common form used by humans.
Previous animal studies use other methods of administration such as injections of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis.
More research is needed, but the generational findings of the study should make cannabis users think, said Kanako Hayashi, the corresponding author of the article: “This is a warning flag. You can take cannabis for some kind of momentary stress, but it could affect your offspring“, he said Hayashi, who is an associate professor at the WSU School of Molecular Biosciences.
According to some estimates, human sperm count has decreased by 59% over the past few decades. There are likely many reasons for this decline, Hayashi said, but this study adds to the evidence that cannabis use may be harmful to male reproductive function.
For this study, the researchers studied 30 adult male mice. They exposed 15 of them to cannabis vapor three times a day for ten days, an intense amount but one that mimics the cannabis intake of regular cannabis users.
The researchers then compared the sperm count and motility in those mice with the unexposed control group. The scientists found that soon after the exposure period, the sperm motility of the mice decreased and, after a month, the sperm count decreased.
The researchers bred many of the male mice with unexposed female mice. Male offspring from the exposed group also showed decreased sperm count and motility. The offspring who experienced cannabis unintentionally also showed evidence of DNA damage and disruptions related to sperm development.
“We did not expect that the sperm would disappear completely or that the motility would be completely compensated, but the reduction in the sperm count and motility of the offspring, the children, is likely a direct effect of the father’s exposure to cannabis.“, Explained Kanako.
A third generation, i grandchildren of exposed male mice did not show the same impacts, however, which suggests that cannabis exposure impacted second-generation mice in a developmental stage.
Hayashi and his colleagues are currently testing the theory that expressing cannabis to mice in utero would have deeper generational effects, as the drug would affect the formation of the reproductive system of the mice that could be passed down.
There are currently over 200 million individuals consuming cannabis around the world. The largest number of cannabis users is found in Asia, followed by the Americas and then Africa. The use of cannabis varies by country and region as the laws surrounding the sale and use of the drug differ greatly.
Some countries and regions maintain harsh penalties for the sale and use of cannabis, while others have decriminalized it and, more recently, even fully legalized it for sale and recreational use.
Cannabis is by far the most widely used illicit drug in the world.Cannabis produces physical and mental effects that change the consumer’s perception, improve mood and increase appetite, but can also cause anxiety and paranoia.
There has been a surge of interest in cannabis’s therapeutic purposes in recent years, with a number of countries having legalized it for this purpose. As a medicine, it has been found to reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, reduce chronic pain and improve appetite.
In order to legalize cannabis even in Italy, more than 500,000 signatures were collected. This will kick off the referendum on the issue, leaving the Italians the last word on the matter.
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