Using cannabis may cause changes in the human body's epigenome, a study of over 1,000 adults suggests. The epigenome functions like a set of instructions that tells genes when to turn on or off, and alterations in this system can impact gene expression and potentially lead to various health effects. By studying changes in DNA methylation, the biological process by which methyl groups are added to DNA molecules, thereby altering gene activity, researchers have found evidence linking cannabis use to epigenetic modifications.
Marijuana is a widely used psychoactive substance in the US, and both medical and recreational legalization has significantly increased over the past decade. As its prevalence grows, it becomes essential to understand the potential consequences of cannabis use on human health. The researchers found evidence that the drug is associated with DNA methylation, a chemical alteration to the DNA inside human cells. This finding suggests that cannabis use can potentially influence gene expression and have long-term effects on an individual's health.
OHSU researchers warn of potential impacts on brain development and long-term health related to prenatal cannabis exposure. This highlights the need for further investigation into the potential epigenetic changes caused by cannabis use during pregnancy. Understanding the impact on brain development and long-term health outcomes is crucial for future public health policies and guidelines.