A “biological response to cannabis” Could Result in Changes to Smokers’ DNA
According to a study recently published in Translational Psychiatry, heavy cannabis use may impact the human genome, IFLScience.com reports. Even further, researchers found that individuals who also smoked tobacco in addition to cannabis “appear to be more genetically impacted than those who never smoked cigarettes.”
“This study shows how cannabis use is linked to changes in gene pathways that may explain the link between heavy cannabis use and those adverse health outcomes,” University of Canterbury College of Science lecturer and lead author of the study, Dr. Amy Osborne, said in a statement. “However, in terms of the effect on the genome and DNA methylation, cannabis appears to have a distinct and somewhat more subtle effect than tobacco. It’s not altering gene pathways to the same extent, but it does affect them in very specific ways.”
The study consisted of 48 subjects who were all heavy cannabis users. Blood samples were taken when the subjects were 28 years old and analysed their DNA methylation differences between cannabis users and non-users. They found that the biggest changes were in those who smoked tobacco as well as cannabis, but changes were still found in the DNA of those who only smoked cannabis.
The prolonged use of cannabis has been linked to both mental health disorders, and illicit drug abuse, both of which can have genetic components, according to IFLScience.
“We think assessing cannabis’s potential effect on DNA is timely. It’s currently the most widely used illicit psychoactive substance in the world and this could be predicted to increase with decriminalisation or legalisation,” Dr. Osbourne said.