A new study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry finds that a high dose of cannabis affects human DNA but it affects stronger to those who smoke tobacco too. This study explores how high doses of cannabis can prompt alterations in DNA methylation, chemical changes that influence gene functioning in the body. This research is led by researchers at the University of Canterbury (UC).
Dr. Amy Osborne is a lecturer at UC College of Science and the lead author of this study. In this study, she says that previous studies have already proved that a high dose of cannabis increases the risk of many mental health issues such as schizophrenia and depression. Heavy use of cannabis is also associated with a heart attack. The study is done in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Otago, ESR, and the University of Otago Christchurch.
The present study shows how high doses of cannabis causes changes in the gene pathways that may clarify the connection between substantial cannabis use and adverse health outcomes.
On the other hand, in terms of cannabis use impact on DNA methylation and the genome, cannabis seems to have a distinct and more subtle impact than tobacco. It does not alter gene pathways to a similar extent, however, it affects them in quite specific manners.
In this new research, all users of heavy cannabis were from the Christchurch Health and Development longitudinal study. Researchers took their blood samples when they were of 28 years and analyzed for DNA methylation differences between both the users of cannabis and non-users of cannabis.
The greatest changes were in the individuals who smoked both cannabis and tobacco. However, there was evidence of particular and specific DNA alterations in the individuals who smoked just cannabis as compared to the non-users of cannabis. Researchers tell that the most affected genes are those which are involved in heart and brain function.
Dr. Osborne tells that cannabis use has become a public health issue, especially in New Zealand where a referendum on whether the production, sale, procession, and use of cannabis ought to be sanctioned is expected to be held after five months.
She tells that the effect of cannabis use on the DNA is timely. Now, it is the most widely used psychoactive substance around the globe and this could be anticipated to increase with legalization or decriminalization.
The Christchurch Health and Development Study associate contained cannabis users who had never smoked cigarettes, giving an important chance to study the particular effects of a high dose of cannabis on the DNA methylation in the human genome.
In a study, researchers suggest that the effects of synthetic cannabinoid can bring changes in the brain that eventually makes cocaine a much more serious experience than it already is.
The UC study recommends that, while tobacco strongly affects DNA than cannabis, cannabis seems to exert strong effects on genes that are involved in the heart and brain functioning. There is a need to do more work with a larger sample size.
The present study data finds that the effect of the high dose of cannabis on genomes vary from and are less pronounced than the effects of tobacco use. Also, suggestive for the role of DNA methylation in the biological reaction to cannabis. Thus, caution ought to be taken when deciphering comparative cannabis exposure studies that don’t or can’t exclude cigarette smokers.