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An unexpected link between marijuana and fertility

first_imgMen who have smoked marijuana at some point in their life had significantly higher concentrations of sperm when compared with men who have never smoked marijuana, according to new research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The study, conducted in the Fertility Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, also found that there was no significant difference in sperm concentrations between current and former marijuana smokers.“These unexpected findings highlight how little we know about the reproductive health effects of marijuana, and in fact of the health effects of marijuana in general,” said Jorge Chavarro, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard Chan School. “Our results need to be interpreted with caution and they highlight the need to further study the health effects of marijuana use.”The study was published on Feb. 5, 2019 in Human Reproduction.The researchers hypothesized that marijuana smoking would be associated with worse semen quality. Previous studies on marijuana have suggested that it is associated with negative effects on male reproductive health, but most of those studies had focused on animal models or on men with histories of drug abuse.For this study, researchers collected 1,143 semen samples from 662 men between 2000 and 2017.  To gather information on marijuana use among study participants, researchers used a self-reported questionnaire that asked the men a number of questions about their usage, including if they had ever smoked more than two joints or the equivalent amount of marijuana in their life and if they were current marijuana smokers.Among the participants, 365, or 55 percent, reported having smoked marijuana at some point. Of those, 44 percent said they were past marijuana smokers and 11 percent classified themselves as current smokers.Analysis of the semen samples showed that men who had smoked marijuana had average sperm concentrations of 62.7 million sperm per milliliter of ejaculate while men who had never smoked marijuana had average concentrations of 45.4 million sperm per milliliter of ejaculate. Only 5 percent of marijuana smokers had sperm concentrations below 15 million sperm per milliliter (the World Health Organization’s threshold for “normal” levels) compared with 12 percent of men who had never smoked marijuana.The researchers cautioned that there are several potential limitations to the findings, including that participants may have underreported marijuana use. The researchers emphasized that they do not know to what extent these findings may apply to men in the general population as the study population consisted of subfertile men in couples seeking treatment at a fertility center.“Our findings were contrary to what we initially hypothesized. However, they are consistent with two different interpretations, the first being that low levels of marijuana use could benefit sperm production because of its effect on the endocannabinoid system, which is known to play a role in fertility, but those benefits are lost with higher levels of marijuana consumption,” said Feiby Nassan, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Chan School. “An equally plausible interpretation is that our findings could reflect the fact that men with higher testosterone levels are more likely to engage in risk-seeking behaviors, including smoking marijuana.” Read Full Storylast_img read more

MBA club hosts blockchain innovation challenge

first_imgAs a soon-to-graduate Notre Dame MBA candidate with an interest in technology, Vinod Krishnadas noticed a recruiting trend that did not sit well with him. “Recruiters tend to look for technology talent on the West Coast, and then they jump all the way across to the East Coast, and so they kind of skip the entire Midwest,” Krishnadas, president of the MBA Technology Club, said. “So we wanted to give students a platform to showcase their technology talent and their capability.”He hopes the MBA Tech Club’s first ever MBA Tech Innovation Challenge can serve as that platform. Krishnadas said the Tech Innovation Challenge will kick off Notre Dame’s IDEA Week Friday where teams will present strategies for blockchain technology utilization. Eight teams from Notre Dame, Washington University in St. Louis, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, the University of Maryland, University of California Irvine and Arizona State University will compete for prizes of $6,000, $3,000 and $1,000 in Jordan Auditorium in the Mendoza College of Business. Krishnadas said the teams were selected from a pool of 20 first-round competitors after completing a challenge to showcase their overall understanding of blockchain technology. For the second and final round, they must present strategies for applying blockchain technology to the practice of value-added taxation. The competition has reinforced Krishnadas’ perception that Mendoza graduate students are interested in technology and have tech talent to offer, he said. Nine teams from Notre Dame entered the competition, and two have reached the final round. Jake Downs, a member of one of the final-round Notre Dame teams, said none of his team members had a blockchain technology background, but they wanted to apply their MBA knowledge to a new topic that has recently become trendy with the rise of Bitcoin. “It’s been a lot of fun to tackle a subject that no one in our group knows anything about, so we’re all trying to learn something on the fly and come up with a solution that makes sense,” Downs said.Ajit Vaidya, a member of the other final-round Notre Dame team and a longtime member of the MBA Tech Club, said he and some of of his teammates had technology backgrounds and had been fascinated by blockchain technology before entering the competition. Even so, he said the competition prompted them to learn more about the technology. “We realize that there is so much more to learn each time we meet together as a team. As we’ve explored different applications of the technology, we’ve come to realize the pain points of a variety of stakeholders as the technology finds its use in supply chain, financial reporting, tax fraud, refugee management and diamonds trading, just to name a few,” Vaidya said in an email.The teams will present their ideas in 30-minute segments starting at 1 p.m. Friday. Mendoza faculty and representatives from sponsors Thomson Reuters and SAP will judge the competition. The final round is open to the public, and audience members will be allowed to ask questions of each team. “That goes back to the ethos of this competition, which is to make it a learning opportunity for everyone involved,” Krishnadas said. “Some of the judges when we started off either didn’t have a good sense of blockchain, or didn’t have a good sense of tax. So I think between the organizers, the teams, the judges and the audience, you know, everyone’s going to learn something from this competition.”Tags: mba technology club, tech innovation challengelast_img read more

Kentucky muni signs solar power purchase deal

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Courier Journal:Kentucky is about to catch some rays in a big way.A new solar farm coming to Western Kentucky in 2022 promises to be the state’s biggest — by a wide margin. Some 800 acres of solar panels are planned for Lyon County, just north of Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. At their midday peak, the panels are expected to produce 86 megawatts of power, or among the top 2 percent in the nation for solar plants, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.The Kentucky Municipal Energy Agency, a group of 11 city-owned utilities, agreed last week to purchase the majority of that power starting in late 2022, with the rest planned for Owensboro Municipal Utilities, pending board approval. The solar plant would be Kentucky’s seventh and biggest. The largest currently is Kentucky Utilities’ 10-megawatt solar plant, which opened near Harrodsburg two years ago. Last year, five more solar plants opened, including three owned by Duke Energy.For Kentucky Municipal Energy Agency CEO Doug Buresh, whose agency will start delivering energy to member utilities next year, that’s a sign renewable sources are gaining traction. Buresh said he expects more plants to open in coming years and that the agreement to buy solar power demonstrates its commitment to environmentally friendly sources.The Kentucky Municipal Energy Agency has drawn scrutiny for leaning heavily on coal-fired plants. In its first three years, two-thirds of the group’s energy will come from coal. Starting in 2022, Buresh said he hopes to change that. The new solar plant would still, however, fill less than 10 percent of the group’s energy needs.The new solar plant’s builders are Texas-based Open Road Renewables and MAP Energy, an investor in renewable energy projects with offices in Oklahoma and California.More: Western Kentucky to soak up the sun with state’s largest solar farm Kentucky muni signs solar power purchase deallast_img read more