Potential GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson has apologized for saying that prison can make people gay.

Appearing on CNN's New Day, Carson was asked if being gay was a choice.

“Absolutely,” Carson answered. “Because a lot of people go into prison straight and when they come out they're gay.”

(Related: Ben Carson opposed to marriage equality because some inmates turn gay in prison.)

“I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation,” Carson said in a statement released later in the day. “I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended.”

“I'm a doctor trained in multiple fields of medicine, who was blessed to work at perhaps the finest institution of medical knowledge in the world. Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, and up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality,” he added. “We do know, however, that we are always born male and female. And I know that we are all made in God’s image, which means we are all deserving of respect and dignity.”

Appearing on Sean Hannity's radio show, Carson said that he would no longer talk about gay rights.

“I simply have decided I'm not going to really talk about that issue anymore,” he said. “Every time I'm gaining momentum, the political press says, 'Let's talk about gay rights.' And I'm just not going to fall for that anymore.”

Meanwhile, Helen Eigenberg, professor of criminal justice at the University of Tennessee, called Carson's theory “insane.”

“The fundamental assumption of the analogy he's using is insane,” said Eigenberg, who has studied sexuality and incarceration for 25 years. “I don't know of any research that substantiates the [claim] that men go to prison and come out gay. There's no data to support that claim.”