Monday, February 9, 2009

Marijuana Use Increases Testicular Cancer Risk, Study Reports

The following article (hattip): The Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre (UK)

Cannabis - Testicular Cancer Link

Frequent or long-term marijuana use may raise a man's risk of testicular cancer, American research suggests.

The study of 369 men, published in the journal Cancer, found being a regular marijuana user doubled the risk compared to those who never smoked it.

The results suggest that it may be linked to the most aggressive form of the cancer.

A spokesman for Cancer Research UK said that no previous studies had found a link between marijuana and the disease.

Testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers in younger men, with approximately 2,000 new cases each year in the UK.

Incidence in Europe and North America is far higher than in some other parts of the world, and has been rising steadily for no apparent reason.

Known risk factors for the cancer include previous injuries to the testicles, a family history of the disease, or suffering from undescended testicles as a young child.

The study from scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle is the first to look specifically at marijuana use in relation to the disease.

They studied 369 men aged 18 to 44, who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer, and quizzed them about marijuana use.

Their replies were compared to those from almost 1,000 apparently healthy control subjects.

Even after adjusting the figures to take account of the other known risk factors, marijuana use remained a clear risk factor for testicular cancer.

Just being a marijuana smoker seemed to carry a 70% extra risk, while those who smoked it regularly, or had smoked from an early age, had twice the risk compared to those who had never smoked it.

A connection was made to nonseminoma, a fast-growing form of testicular cancer which accounts for approximately 40% of all cases, and tends to strike younger.

Puberty chance

Dr Janet Daling, one of the authors, said that puberty might be a "window of opportunity" during which boys were more vulnerable to environmental factors such as the chemicals in marijuana.

"This is consistent with the study's findings that the elevated risk of nonseminoma-type testicular cancer in particular was associated with marijuana use prior to 18," she said.

Another research, Dr Stephen Schwartz, said: "What young men should know is first, we know very little about the long-term health consequences of marijuana smoking, especially heavy marijuana smoking, and second, our study provides some evidence that testicular cancer could be one adverse consequence."

The next step, he said, would be to look more closely at cells in the testicles to see if any of them had receptors set up to respond to cannabis chemicals.

Henry Scowcroft, from Cancer Research UK, said: "As the researchers themselves point out, this is the first inkling that there is any association between chronic marijuana use and testicular cancer.

"But the researchers only interviewed a relatively small number of men.

"So before we can reach any firm conclusions about whether this is a cause-and-effect relationship, rather than a statistical blip, the result needs to be replicated in a much larger study."

Source: BBC News © British Broadcasting Corporation 2009 (09/02/09)


  1. Whoa. That really bums my high. :-)

    I seem to recall (from working with AIDS outreach programs in the 90s) that unless the study participants have an interest in being 100% truthful, they often deny behaviors that society considers shameful. Questionnaires have to be very carefully worded to at least detect potential fibbers.

    In this case, the people who are sick have an interest in finding out why. The control group doesn't necessarily share this interest.

    For those with access to medicinal marijuana, I wouldn't let these early findings affect your treatment plan. If you are really concerned, I'll send you a good cookie recipe. :-)

  2. Thanks for posting this study. As a recovering alcoholic and addict, I obviously am not a real proponent of smoking pot. I am not, however, completely opposed to people who DO NOT have substance abuse issues using marijuana for proven medical benefits. Since I am not in this group, I sometimes feel like I am missing out when I hear people talking about how great it is for MS. :-) I feel the same way when people talk about the health benefits of drinking red wine. It's a little something I like to call DENIAL. :-) So, it's good to see something talking about the negatives. Not that I really need to worry about testicular cancer (having no testicles) but you know what I mean. :-) Thanks for your always interesting and thorough research.

  3. This is just more "pot is bad for you" nonsense.

  4. Thank you each for chiming in. It's not often that I post something controversial and I love that the response has been so very honest.

    Thank you!!

    I've never tried marijuana (maybe I need that cookie recipe) but do think that it should be legal for those people to use whom other pain relievers don't touch it (ie. MS pain and spasticity).

    I had not contemplated how marijuana fits in with substance abuse, but it makes sense. I have chosen to not drink hardly any alcohol because: a) alcoholism is very common in my Dad's family, and b) I actually do like the taste of much I've tried. Long Island Iced Tea was my favorite during grad school.

  5. In a way, if you want value your life and, perhaps, want kids, you avoid drugs. Testicular cancer is serious and has been attributed to EXTENSIVE bicycle riding and other behavior. To me, kids are the most precious of God's resources. We do what it takes to bring these unique creations to our Earth and raise them to be the best people GOD intended.