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Cannabis could affect men’s fertility: study

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A cannabis plant. PHOTO | AFP 

Use of cannabis by men of child-bearing age significantly alters their sperm and affects fertility, a new study has shown, re-igniting the age-old debate on the effects of the plant.

The study conducted by Duke University Medical Centre revealed that use of bhang by men causes potential risk to their future children as the active ingredient of the drug, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), causes sperm to change.

“What we have found is that the effects of cannabis use on males and their reproductive health are not completely null, in that there’s something about cannabis use that affects the genetic profile in sperm,” said Dr Scott Kollins, professor in psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Duke University and senior author of the study funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

The research paper, “Cannabinoid exposure and altered DNA methylation in rat and human sperm,” published on December 19, studied the effects of THC in both humans and male rats with a view to find out the effect of the drug before conception took place. It was discovered that the chemical affects epigenetics, triggering structural and regulatory changes in the DNA of users’ sperm.

According to WhatisEpigenetics.com, “epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression (active versus inactive genes) that do not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence, a change in phenotype without a change in genotype, which in turn affects how cells read the genes.”

Epigenetic change is a natural occurrence that can also be influenced by several factors including age, the environment or lifestyle, in this case, the use of marijuana (bhang), and disease state such as cancer.

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“We don’t yet know what that means, but the fact that more and more young males of child-bearing age have legal access to cannabis (in the US) is something we should be thinking about,” Dr Kollins said.

Experiments in rats and a study with 24 men found that THC appears to target genes in two major cellular pathways and alters DNA methylation, a process essential to normal development.

DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism that occurs by the addition of a methyl (CH3) group to DNA, thereby often modifying the function of the genes and affecting gene expression.

According to lead author Susan Murphy, an associate professor and chief of the Division of Reproductive Sciences in obstetrics and gynaecology at Duke University, one of the pathways affected by use of the drug is involved in helping bodily organs reach their full size while the other pathway involves a large number of genes that regulate growth during development.

“In terms of what it means for the developing child, we just don’t know. It is unknown whether sperm affected by THC could be healthy enough to even fertilize an egg and continue its development into an embryo,” Dr Murphy said. The study also revealed that in humans, cannabis use was also associated with significantly lower sperm concentration. She suggests that men who would like to conceive should stop using the drug at least six months before trying for a baby, in case the effects can somehow be passed on to the next generation.

The study shows that about 150 million people worldwide use the drug and its use may continue to grow as it becomes more accepted. Medical use of marijuana is legal in 33 American states.

The potential effects of bhang use are very close home since in September Kibra MP Ken Okoth wrote to Speaker Justin Muturi asking for facilitation in preparing the Marijuana Control Bill, which seeks to legalise its growth and use in the country.

In September, a South African court decriminalised the use of the stimulant by adults in private.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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