You may want to take a break from cannabis if you're trying to become a father.
A new study from Duke Health has found that marijuana's psychoactive compound THC can actually change the way hundreds of genes found in sperm function.
"What we have found is that the effects of cannabis use on males and their reproductive health are not completely null, in that there's something about cannabis use that affects the genetic profile in sperm," Dr. Scott Kollins, professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke and senior author of the study told Medical Xpress.
The study was relatively small, examining the sperm of a group of rats and 24 human men. As such Dr. Kollins is reluctant to make any conclusive claims about what the data proves. But, he says it's worth considering that cannabis use may affect a man's ability to father healthy children.
Dr. Susan K. Murphy, the study's lead author, said that of the genes that are affected by THC, many of them shared similarities. They were either involved with the growth of organs to full size, or with more general growth during developmental stages.
"In terms of what it means for the developing child, we just don't know," Murphy said.
Murphy says the next steps for the study are to find out if the genetic changes to the sperm are reversible, and whether or not those genetic changes can be transmitted to children.