New research from the Duke University Medical Center shows that regular cannabis consumption — at least once a week for six months, by their definition, which kinda makes me worry how they’d define my own personal usage — causes significant changes in the genetic profile of sperm. Naturally, I’m officially freaking out (but also kinda high, so, y’know, breaking even overall).
The researchers more specifically found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) targets hundreds of different genes in sperm, all of which are associated with two major developmental pathways: One involved with helping bodily organs reach their full size, and another that regulates growth during development.
So will my penchant for smoking fat bowls mess up the babies that I may one day choose to make? “That’s a possibility,” says lead study author Scott Kollins. “But we absolutely cannot conclude that on the basis of our study for a few reasons: There are a number of events that happen between being a sperm cell in ejaculate to a child that influence epigenetics [the study of biological mechanisms that alter genes] and methylation [a biochemical process essential to normal development].”
In other words, whether the genetic changes triggered by consuming cannabis are passed onto children and what those effects may be remain unclear. But then, should stoners like myself, who may someday choose to have kids, stop smoking weed altogether, just in case? “It’s good to be mindful,” Kollins says. “I’m honestly not sure that we know enough to say you should be concerned — I think you should know the facts, and the two main facts from this study are that, completely independent of the genetic stuff we found, the users have lower sperm concentrations, which means it may be more difficult for you to conceive a child. And then, the second is the epigenetic story: We don’t know what it means, but users may be transmitting some changes in their sperm to their kids.”
“If you want to be abundantly cautious,” Kollins continues, “I’d recommend that, if you want to conceive, holding off on using for three or four months prior to starting the process of trying to have a baby.”
But until science proves that weed really does impact your future children, you might be better off simply following our Ultimate Male Pregnancy Diet. Unless you want to be abundantly cautious, of course, in which case you probably should have frozen your sperm before ever smoking weed at all.