In news that could totally bum out a lot of ganja aficionados, new research suggests that smoking weed for years may change parts of your genetic code that can even be passed down to your offspring.
The study, published in the journal Molecular Chemistry, looked at 1,000 adults over a 20-year period and took their blood samples at various intervals. From these blood samples, scientists looked at alterations to their epigenome, which are chemical compounds that control gene expression.
The scientists discovered that there were indeed changes to the epigenome, specifically the addition of DNA methylation markers. DNA methylation is basically when a methyl group — a molecule of one carbon and three hydrogen atoms — is added to DNA and whose addition or subtraction can change how genes are expressed.
Exactly what those changes mean remains hazy. But the results are interesting, not only because abnormal DNA methylation has been linked to cancer, but because epigenetic changes can be potentially passed down to future generations as well.
In blood sample collected after 15 years of weed consumptions, scientists found 22 DNA methylation markers connected with recent use and 31 for long term usage. For 20-year blood samples, they found 16 for long term use and 132 DNA methylation markers for recent usage.
“Interestingly, we consistently identified one marker that has previously been associated with tobacco use, suggesting a potential shared epigenetic regulation between tobacco and marijuana use,” said Lifang Hou, a medical doctor and epidemiologist at Northwestern University, told ScienceAlert.
While the study doesn’t delve into whether marijuana causes cancer or other medical ills, previous studies have linked weed usage to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.