Cannabis Linked to Testicular Cancer
The results of this new study show that men who routinely use cannabis are twice as likely to develop certain types of testicular cancer. These are mixed germ cell tumors and non-seminoma.
These types of testicular cancer are historically much more common in young men. They also carry a much more severe prognosis than many other cancers. Currently, testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in men between 15 and 45.
Victoria Cortessis, MSPH, PhD, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles said, "We do not know what marijuana triggers in the testis that may lead to carcinogenesis, although we speculate that it may be acting through the endocannabinoid system, the cellular network that responds to the active ingredient in marijuana, since this system has been shown to be important in the formation of sperm."
While more testing is needed to better understand the connection between testicular cancer and cannabis use, the idea that cannabis is somehow related to cancer is not a new idea. In 2009, scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle also found a link between cannabis and testicular cancer.
Their research shows that frequent and long term users were at the highest risk of developing testicular cancer. Men who smoked cannabis one or more times per-week or those that began smoking in their teens were at double the risk of men who had never smoked cannabis.
Worse still, the 2009 research found that cannabis was only linked to the most aggressive and fast growing form of testicular cancer.
The more recent study also made a rather startling discovery about cocaine. Men who have a history of cocaine use were at a lower risk of both sub-types of testicular cancer linked to cannabis use. The researchers are not sure how cocaine might influence cancer but they believe it could have something to do with the drug killing sperm-making germ cells.
While this might initially sound like an endorsement for cocaine, the authors of the study warn that the small benefits of cocaine use could come with a steep price. The more germ cells that are destroyed, the greater risk to fertility in men.
Written by Brad Girtz