-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, June 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Marijuana use might
affect the size and shape of a young man's sperm, possibly
impairing his fertility, a new study claims.
"Our data suggests that cannabis users might be advised to stop using the drug if they are planning to try and start a family," study author Dr. Allan Pacey, a senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield in England, said in a university news release.
"Our knowledge of factors that influence sperm size and shape is very limited, yet faced with a diagnosis of poor sperm [size and shape], many men are concerned to try and identify any factors in their lifestyle that could be causing this," said Pacey.
The study, published June 5 in the journal
Human Reproduction, doesn't prove that pot use impairs male
fertility; it only suggests an association between the two.
The research included nearly 2,000 men who visited one of 14
fertility clinics and answered questions about their medical
history and their lifestyle.
Of that group of men, 318 had sperm that was considered
"abnormal." Less than 4 percent of their sperm was the correct size
and shape, the researchers said. The information collected on these
men was compared to data from the remaining 1,652 men who had sperm
that was considered "normal."
The researchers examined how certain lifestyle choices affected
the size and shape of the men's sperm and found "very few
identifiable risks," Pacey said.
Although cigarettes and alcohol had little effect, the study
revealed that sperm size and shape was negatively affected if the
men were younger than age 30 and had smoked marijuana within three
Sperm samples produced during the summer were also nearly twice
as likely to be considered "abnormal," the study showed.
The study authors noted that sperm size and shape may be linked
to other factors that were not measured, such as the quality of a
Previous research has suggested sperm need to be of good size
and shape to work their way through a woman's body after sex and
fertilize an egg.
Men exposed to paint strippers and lead are also at risk of
having sperm with poor shape and size, Nicola Cherry, an
epidemiologist and professor formerly of the University of
Manchester in England, said in the news release.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse provides more
information on the
health effects of marijuana use.
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