Study: Marijuana use could lower sperm counts

By Oscar Pascual |

Heavy marijuana use could lead to light sperm counts, a new study suggests.

In findings published by the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers collected semen samples from 1,215 Danish men ages 18 to 28 with varying drug use habits. They found that sperm concentrations were 28 percent lower in men who smoked cannabis more than once a week, reports LiveScience.

“Our findings are of public interest as marijuana use is common, and may be contributing to recent reports of poor semen quality,” the University of Copenhagen researchers wrote.

Around 45 percent of the men surveyed said they had smoked marijuana in the past three months, while 10 percent of the study participants had used pot combined with other illegal drugs.

Those men who used both marijuana and other drugs saw their sperm count drop by 55 percent, while sperm concentrations were reduced by 52 percent.

The amount of reduction in sperm count “was quite a lot,” said study author Tina Kold Jensen, of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Researchers say that the drop in sperm count could likely be due to how marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient THC interacts with the testes. Yet another factor could be the lifestyle choices of the research subjects.

“It is important to note that marijuana users were distinct in several ways from nonusers,” wrote Dr. Michael L. Eisenberg of Stanford University School of Medicine, in an editorial accompanying the study in the journal.

These variable factors were taken into account when studying the link between cannabis and lower sperm levels. The authors note that the study still does not prove that the drug is an actual cause of lower sperm counts.

“We cannot exclude the possibility that the men who used marijuana generally have an unhealthier lifestyle and health behavior, which may also affect their semen quality and hormone levels,” the researchers said in the study.

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