Thursday, January 15, 2009

LSD Damages Chromosomes

The Legend:  LSD breaks chromosomes and that can cause birth defects in your future offspring.

Status:  False


This one has been circulating for over 40 years. The story goes like this. If you use LSD, your chromosomes will "break" and when you have children of your own they are likely to be deformed.

This rumor started back in the 1960's, largely fueled by Dr. Cohen, a geneticist, who published research claiming to have found an unusually high number of "broken chromosomes" in a 57-year-old patient who had previously used LSD, (Cohen, Marinello & Back, 1967). He also said that human tissue, when exposed to LSD in a test tube, was damaged.

Naturally, this research, with a sample size of only one, got huge media attention. When colleagues tried to replicate Dr. Cohen's research they found that just about anything put into a test tube with human tissues will cause damage at the chromosomal level, including milk and water. Naturally, this was not picked up by the media. Researchers also found that while chromosomal damage might be done to white cells, that did not translate to passing on birth defects to offspring.

They also found that many LSD users have chromosomal damage, but that it might not have been caused by the LSD. That's right, news flash here - people who use LSD might also use other drugs and toxic agents - like alcohol, nicotine, and amphetamines.  All that chemical soup might have been what caused the chromosomal damage, but it couldn't be traced back to the LSD with any accuracy.

Most of that LSD-using generation have become parents by now. Do you see an alarming number of teenagers with birth defects? Have you read anything about an upswing in the number of children with birth defects? Has your local school district asked for a tax hike to cover services for this growing population of children?

LSD is no longer considered a toxin that can do genetic damage to you or your progeny. The LSD you took 20 years ago isn't the problem. The real problem with birth defects is alcohol and other illegal drugs ingested by pregnant women leading to often profound fetal damage. The research on this is conclusive.