Cannabis plants in full bloom. Supplied

The University of Western Australia (UWA) scientists have revealed that cannabis use may expose a person to serious illnesses that may be passed on to future generations. According to the study, cannabis alters a person’s DNA structure that causes mutations.

These mutations expose a person to serious illnesses. Although the association between cannabis use and serious illnesses like cancer has been previously documented, researchers had little knowledge on how this occurs and its implications for future generations.

“Through our research we found that cancers and illnesses were likely caused by cell mutations resulting from cannabis properties having a chemical interaction with a person’s DNA. With cannabis use increasing globally in recent years, this has a concerning impact for the population,” Associate Professor Stuart Reece said in a press release.

Dr. Stuart Reece
Associate Professor Stuart Reece from from UWA’s School of Psychiatry and Clinical Sciences. Supplied

Reece and professor Gary Hulse, both from UWA’s School of Psychiatry and Clinical Sciences, uncovered alarming information after an extensive analysis of research and literary material to understand likely causes. A cannabis user may seem healthy from outside, but the cannabis-induced DNA damage may be passed onto his/her children and future generations to come.

Reece also pointed out in the study that when chemicals in cannabis change a person’s DNA structure, it may lead to slow cell growth and have major implications for foetal development of babies. This may in turn cause cancers or underdevelopment of vital organs and limbs.

“Even if a mother has never used cannabis in her life, the mutations passed on by a father’s sperm can cause serious and fatal illnesses in their children. The parents may not realise that they are carrying these mutations, which can lie dormant and may only affect generations down the track, which is the most alarming aspect,” Reece added.

Babies exposed to cannabis effect in utero report the worst cancers in the first few years of life. The study comes as a warning to all nations who are legalising cannabis. Cannabis use is increasing in many countries around the world due to the ongoing legalisation storm. There is a much larger consumption of cannabis compared to previous years.

The findings of the study have implications for medical and healthcare professionals, researchers and also governments in regulating the drug’s use. Laws should be framed to protect the vulnerable.

The research has been published in the journal Mutation Research – Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis.