Smoking marijuana may increase men’s risk of testicular cancer, a new study from the University of Southern California (USC) finds.
This new study discovered that men who smoked weed or marijuana were twice as likely as men who had not to get a dangerous form of the disease. If you don’t know, testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in men under the age of 45. It’s also on the rise, says Scott Eggener, MD, a cancer surgeon at the University of Chicago who has studied the trend.
There was a study released earlier this year that showed marijuana use is up, with 1 in 10 teens now smoking marijuana at least 20 times a month. The USC study compared a group of 163 men with testicular cancer to a similar group of 292 healthy men who were questioned about recreational drug use. The researchers of California discovered those men who used marijuana had a two-fold increased risk of testicular tumors and, more specifically, tend to affect younger men and are difficult to diagnose, requiring chemotherapy.
I know the doubled risk of cancer may sound quite scary, but researchers caution that men who have smoked marijuana shouldn’t panic. This is because the odds that a man will get testicular cancer are pretty small to begin with. About 1 in 400 men are diagnosed by the time they are 35, according to the National Cancer Institute. Even if you double that risk to 1 in 200, any one man’s chances are still pretty slim. The study also does not prove that marijuana causes cancer.
On the other hand, there was a negative effect in this study between a history of cocaine use and these types of cancer. Victoria Cortessis, MSPH, PhD, assistant professor of preventive medicine, offers an explanation in the fact that cocaine destroys sperm-producing germ cells, as it is known to occur in animals. Cocaine may lead to infertility but it may also kill cells, including cancerous ones, before they even develop cancer, which would explain the lower incidence of testicular tumors among cocaine users. This is most likely the first study to reveal such an association.
Doctors still don’t know why marijuana may increase the risk of certain types of cancer.The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, may interfere with normal hormone signaling between the brain and the testicles. Further research will be conducted that will look at all the processes.
The bottom line, explains Stephen M. Schwartz, PhD, MPH, an epidemiologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, is that marijuana may not be as harmless a drug as some people think. I have never heard of anyone dying from marijuana use or overdosing so I always thought that marijuana can’t be that harmful. Sure enough you will get the “munchies” or laugh uncontrollably, but that’s all I knew. As a matter of fact, many individuals have found marijuana to help them with stress and certain pains.
“The overall story is that there’s an increased risk in users,” says Schwartz, who was not involved in the research. “It’s particular to the kinds of testicular tumors that are the most aggressive and therefore the most likely to put a man’s life at risk.” What’s more, he says, the finding “is pretty consistent amongst these three studies, which is something we should be paying attention to.”
The main issue that concerns me is the increased use of marijuana among teens. There has been a study that suggested that teens who smoke marijuana routinely risk a long term drop in their IQ. The significant fact about the analysis showed that individuals who reduced smoking habits and quit entirely, still showed declines their IQ by the age of 38.
The best solution to both of these studies is to avoid marijuana all together and practice healthy habits such as dieting and exercising. There is no better feeling in the world than knowing you are healthy and continuing to improve your body inside and out. Change your bad habits today and start following a healthier lifestyle.