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Heavy cannabis use may cause DNA changes, serious illness in future generations

Heavy cannabis use may cause DNA changes, serious illness in future generations

Heavy cannabis use may cause DNA changes, serious illness in future generations

May 31st, 2016 | ASAH Team

The debate on marijuana legalization has created a furor among Americans with a growing number of people showing their support for legalization of marijuana for recreational and medical purposes. Results of a survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released in March 2016 showed a whopping 61 percent Americans supporting marijuana legalization across all states.

Healthcare providers and scientists have expressed the need for a detailed research on the risks of marijuana addiction and the possible onset of mental illnesses as a consequence of prolonged use of the drug.

A recent study by the University of Western Australia (UWA), published online in the journal Mutation Research – Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis in May 2016, suggested how the consistent use of weed can cause changes in the DNA structure, thus aggravating vulnerability to serious illnesses that can eventually pass on to future generations.

Mutations lie dormant, may affect generations down the track

In the study, titled “Chromothripsis and epigenomics complete causality criteria for cannabis- and addiction-connected carcinogenicity, congenital toxicity and heritable genotoxicity,” Associate Professor Albert Stuart Reece and Professor Gary Kenneth Hulse from the UWA’s School of Psychiatry and Clinical Sciences conducted a detailed examination of the literary and research material to show for the first time that marijuana use can be associated with serious illnesses in future generations.

Reece said, “Through our research we found that cancers and illnesses were likely caused by cell mutations resulting from cannabis properties having a chemical interaction with a person’s DNA.”

It was observed that the DNA mutations can lead to slow cell growth and hinder fetal development of babies, but most often, parents do not realize that they are the carriers of these mutations.

The study is important as a growing number of American states are moving toward marijuana legalization and medical practitioners are also increasing prescribing marijuana for medicinal purposes or for pain management.

Stressing on how marijuana users do not exhibit symptoms of illnesses but pass on the risks of DNA alterations to the future generations, Reece said, “Even if a mother has never used cannabis in her life, the mutations passed on by a father’s sperm can cause serious and fatal illnesses in their children. The parents may not realize that they are carrying these mutations, which can lie dormant and may only affect generations down the track, which is the most alarming aspect.”

The study pinpoints at the need for necessary laws in place to protect those vulnerable to heavy marijuana use. Emphasizing on the need to regulate increasing cannabis use, Reece said, “Some people may say that previous data collected doesn’t show there are serious effects from using cannabis, but many authorities acknowledge that there is now a much larger consumption of cannabis use compared to previous years.”

Road to recovery

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly 6 million Americans suffer from “marijuana use disorder”. As per a report titled “Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders in the United States Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013,” the number of cases related to the disorders caused by heavy cannabis use is proportional to the number of marijuana users.

According to the NIAAA, “Marijuana use disorder is common in the United States, is often associated with other substance use disorders, behavioral problems, and disability, and goes largely untreated.”

If you or your loved one is battling addiction, contact the Arizona Substance Abuse Helpline to know about various substance abuse treatment centers in Arizona. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-857-5777 or chat online to get information about various substance abuse rehab clinics that work relentlessly toward helping addicts in their recovery.

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