According to a 2015 survey, around 52% of men of reproductive age have used cannabis at least once in their lifetime. A research team from Duke University has analyzed the possible effects on reproductive abilities. In fact, it seems that the substance can alter the DNA of spermatozoa.
Prenatal use of cannabis hurts both mom and unborn baby, as it reduces birth weight and impairs the development of the immune system. According to the scientists, paternal use could also have negative effects on offspring. Still, studies on this are still few: most of the teams focus on mothers and neglect the role of fathers in fetal development. This is despite studies showing the effects of phthalates and pesticides on the epigenome of spermatozoa.
The study authors analyzed the spermatozoa of some male rats exposed to THC. The subjects showed a reduction in sperm concentration, accompanied by changes in DNA methylation. Later, they analyzed the sperm of men who had used cannabis: there were the same problems. Further analyzes on human samples showed 17 genetic areas involved in methylation. One of these is the DLGAP2 gene, which codes for a protein essential in neuronal and synapse development.
The alteration could cause anomalies in the connection between the synapses, leading to the development of schizophrenia and autism.