Teenage THC smoking reduces egg count by HALF, study suggests
Teenage girls who smoke marijuana can permanently impair their fertility, researchers warn.
A study conducted by the University of California, Irvine (UCI) found that adolescent female mice exposed to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical in the drug, had 50 percent fewer healthy ovarian follicles than the control group through adulthood.
Researchers believe that the body’s endocannabinoid system — which is stimulated when marijuana is used — damages the follicles or causes them to activate too quickly, causing them to become exhausted.
With marijuana use now becoming commonplace among teenagers across America, researchers worry that many young women are unwittingly compromising their chances of having a child in the future.
While the last study was conducted on mice, separate research has shown that pregnant women who use cannabis are at higher risk of birth defects, miscarriage, and stillbirth.
Teenage girls who smoke marijuana can permanently damage their fertility, researchers warn (stock image)
Researchers found that mice regularly exposed to THC over two weeks had 50 percent fewer healthy ovarian follicles, including primordial follicles, which represent the number of ova a woman will have for the rest of her life
Marijuana is legal for recreational use in 21 US states and Washington DC (orange). It is available for medical use in 17 states (green)
“The results of this study are particularly important given the increasing number of teenagers and young adults using cannabis, particularly those with easier access to the substance,” said Dr. Ulrike Luderer, lead author of the study and Professor of Environmental Health at the UCI.
“There is an imperative to fully disseminate the consequences of exposure to cannabis at a young age on adult reproductive health.”
An estimated 3.3 million US teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 use cannabis, experts warn.
The use of THC, the chemical in the drug that makes someone feel “high,” has been legalized for recreational use in 21 US states and the District of Columbia.
Almost all of these states made the transition in the post-Covid period, seeing increased tax revenue from marijuana sales as an opportunity to fill state coffers.
While it was already widely used as a street drug, widespread legalization has skyrocketed marijuana use among young Americans.
A study released late last year by Oregon Health & Science University found that cannabis use among American teenagers increased 245 percent from 2000 to 2020.
There isn’t much research on the potential harms of widespread cannabis adoption.
However, early signs point to many long-term negative effects of taking the drug, including heart problems, cognitive problems, and a low IQ.
In November, researchers found that marijuana use increased a person’s risk of developing a deadly heart condition, such as atrial fibrillation, by more than 30 percent.
Now the UCI study finds that young women in particular are at risk by consuming the drug.
The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Toxicological Sciences, injected about 30-day-old mice with THC daily for two weeks.
These mice would be considered juveniles since the species reaches adulthood at around three months of age.
When the mice turned 70 days old, the researchers checked how many primordial ovaries they had.
These are ovaries in the earliest stages. They will eventually develop into eggs, which a woman will ovulate.
Like mice, human females are born with the ovaries they have all their lives. A lower ovarian count significantly reduces your chances of conceiving in the future.
They found that mice exposed to THC had half as many ovaries as other mice of the same age.
This was the case at all stages of ovarian development, meaning the mice exposed to the drug were less fertile overall than their peers.
“Our results provide unexpected new insights into the long-term effects of THC on reproductive function and aging,” said Dr. Daniele Piomelli, co-author of the study and Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the UCI.
“We hope our findings will motivate teenage girls to make better, more informed decisions about whether or not to use cannabis products.”
This isn’t the first study to link THC use to poorer fertility.
A 2018 study found that men who smoked cannabis had lower sperm counts than their peers.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-11890601/Smoking-THC-teens-slashes-egg-count-HALF-study-suggests.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Teenage THC smoking reduces egg count by HALF, study suggests