Inverse Daily: Smoking weed may heighten the risk of a startling disease

After a meta-analysis of 25 studies, scientists say that smoking marijuana heavily for at least a decade heightens the risk of one startling disease.

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INVERSE QUOTE OF THE DAY

“China wants the first woman on the moon; Elon Musk wants the first human on Mars. Some countries will be attracted to this achievement of having the first baby born in space.”

— Scientist and entrepreneur Egbert Edelbroek.

Chin up

The Habsburg family’s commitment to power was admirable. They controlled various territories, empires, and kingdoms in Europe from the 13th century to the 18th century. Their commitment to marrying one another was even more hardcore: about 80 percent of Habsburg royal marriages were consanguineous.

That high level of inbreeding is probably responsible for the trait that has come to define the Habsburg visage: an extremely gnarly jaw, also called “the Habsburg jaw.” Analysis of 66 portraits done by scientists showed that the more inbred the Habsburgs became over the centuries, the more prominent that infamous jaw became — culminating with the striking portrait of Charles II (the last member of the Spanish Habsburg rulers). His jaw is something to behold.

Importantly, these authors don’t want their results to contribute to the idea that all inbreeding creates deformities. Instead, their results actually show how inbreeding exacerbates recessive traits — traits that only appear in offspring when they have two copies of the gene.

Inbreeding tends to bring these traits to the surface and preserves the ones that might otherwise be lost due to intermixing. Ultimately, inbreeding exacerbated these traits and left an indelible mark on one of Europe’s most powerful royal families.

“The royal dynasties are human genetic laboratories” →

More genetics headlines:

Let’s be blunt

Lighting up a cigarette has known cancer-causing consequences, but marijuana’s link to cancer has been less understood. Now, after a meta-analysis of 25 studies, scientists say that smoking marijuana heavily for at least a decade heightens the risk of one startling disease: testicular cancer.

The researchers discovered that heavy marijuana use (a daily joint for 10 years) was associated with the development of testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT), which make up 95 percent of all testicular cancers. Heavy weed smokers had a 36 percent higher chance of developing TGCT than non-weed smokers, the study shows. The researchers couldn’t draw conclusions about marijuana’s influence on other cancers, but that doesn’t mean weed smokers are in the clear, the review’s co-author, Deborah Korenstein, explains.

“I’d hate for people to interpret that to mean that marijuana use is completely safe,” Korenstein says. “The fact is that we don’t know much about the impact of heavy use, use at a very young age, or about non-smoking use.” Unknowns abound, and more research is needed to know exactly how smoking weed impacts cancer development.

Researchers link testicular cancer risk to this popular drug →

More marijuana reporting:

Space-wrecked

For about 4.5 billion years, the Moon’s dusty, gray surface was pristine, save for a few impact craters and dried-up volcanoes.

Enter humans. We came, we saw, we made that giant leap for mankind — and we didn’t pick up after ourselves.

In the last 60 years, humans have accomplished some incredible explorations of our nightly visitor in the sky — but it has also meant that humans have inadvertently turned the Moon into a cosmic junk yard. And the more countries that shoot for the Moon, the more space wreck is left behind.

We’ve left some weird trash on the Moon →

More moon stories:

Mic Check

Like you, we spend a lot of time on the internet. We also spend a lot of time managing the stress that comes with staying informed.

Mic Check is a place where we can work through what’s happening in the world together, and have a little fun in the process.

For a daily morning brief on politics and culture, sign up here

Doggone it

Ever watch a scrawny, puffer vest-clad Chihuahua scurry along the sidewalk and think: How the heck did a wolf turn into that lil guy? Dogs and wolves, despite their obvious aesthetic differences, aren’t just distant cousins — they’re the same species. (Although domestic dogs make up a subspecies of Canis lupus.)

Now, a surprisingly adorable 18,000-year-old puppy might help scientists understand exactly when wild wolves became the lap-loving pals we adore today. Meet Dogor, the ancient Good Boy discovered in the permafrost of Far Eastern Russia.

As scientists continue to do genetic testing on the still-furry specimen, he could unlock new clues about domestication.

Oh, and his name isn’t just “doggo” misspelled — it has a sweet meaning that will warm your heart. 10/10 would pet (for science).

Run with the permafrost dogs →

More from the animal world:

The darkness at the edge of the universe

In a galaxy 740 million light-years away, there lies a monster. The galaxy, Holm 15A, is one of several that make up the Abell 85 galaxy cluster. It is the brightest galaxy in Abell 85, and one of the brightest in our corner of the universe. But in its center, there is a darkness. The region has a very low surface brightness — a signature often left by the collision of two supermassive black holes.

That darkness is now coming into the light. The center of Holm 15A is home to an absolutely massive black hole. At 40 billion solar masses (40 billion times the mass of the Sun), this behemoth dwarves the Milky Way’s central black hole, Sagittarius A* — a puny 4 million solar masses. In fact, it dwarves every other black hole in our galaxy’s vicinity.

Scientists describe this monster supermassive black hole in a new study due to be published in The Astrophysical Journal and in a preprint on arXiv.

Read more about this discovery →

More on the black hole beat:

Today’s good thing

A new study suggests that brushing your teeth three times a day could save your life.

That’s because brushing your teeth keeps inflammation-causing bacteria in your mouth in check — and the same bacteria can threaten an organ that’s far from the mouth: the heart. (The study was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.)

Brushing your teeth helps protect the heart by cutting down on the amount of bacteria entering your bloodstream.

Bacteria in the blood can trigger inflammation throughout the body, which in turn increases the risks of heart problems like irregular heartbeats and heart attacks. — Ali Pattillo

Meanwhile …

  • Snoke leak makes Episode IX the end of the Sith saga — not the Skywalkers.

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That’s all for today!

Thank you for reading, and if you have a suggestion for how to make this newsletter better, drop me a line at nick@inverse.com. And follow me on Twitter, where I retweet the best of Inverse every day.