Marijuana Smoke Linked to Testicular Cancer
September 10, 2012

Study Links Marijuana Smoke to Higher Rates of Testicular Cancer

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Love smoking that Mary Jane? Well, a new study says that your passion for rolling up that five-leafed friend might be affecting your nether regions if you´re a dude, bro.

University of Southern California (USC) researchers wrote in the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society that they have linked marijuana smoking to an increased risk of developing testicular cancer.

Testicular cancer is most commonly diagnosed in men between the ages of 15 and 45, and malignancy — the tendency for cancerous tumors to spread uncontrollably — is becoming more common in the condition.

Researchers decided to use science to determine whether recreational drug use had anything to do with the rising frequency of these potentially deadly tumors.

Victoria Cortessis, MSPH, PhD, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles and colleagues looked at self-reported history of recreational drug use in 163 young men who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. The team compared the men's data with that of 292 healthy men of the same age and race.

The researchers found that men who had a history of using marijuana were twice as likely to have subtypes of testicular cancer called non-seminoma as well as mixed germ cell tumors. These tumors typically occur in younger men and carry a worse prognosis than the seminoma subtype.

Through the study, the researchers were able to confirm the findings of two previous reports in the American Cancer Society´s official journal Cancer by linking marijuana use with testicular cancer.

"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," Cortessis said in a press release.

The latest research surprisingly found that a history of using cocaine had a reduced risk of both subtypes of testicular cancer. However, this doesn't mean the findings should give you the green light to put down the bong and pick up the blow.

The findings suggest that men with testicular cancer are simply not willing to give up as much information about their past history with recreational drug use as the other 292 healthy candidates.

The authors of the study suspect that the ivory line drug may actually kill sperm-producing germ cells, which has been observed in experiments with laboratory animals before.

"If this is correct, then 'prevention' would come at a high price," Cortessis said in a press release. "Although germ cells can not develop cancer if they are first destroyed, fertility would also be impaired. Since this is the first study in which an association between cocaine use and lower testis cancer risk is noted, additional epidemiological studies are needed to validate the results."