Pot Smoking Linked To Testicular Cancer

Males who likes to smoke marijuana, you might want to think twice about lighting up that next joint.

NBC News reports that scientists at the University of Southern California say that they have found a link between recreational marijuana use and a greater chance of developing a dangerous form of testicular cancer, non-seminoma tumors. Smoking pot raises the chance for developing this type of testicular cancer among males in their early teens to their mid-30’s, according to a study published in CANCER, a peer reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

“The group that is at risk for developing these tumors is overwhelmingly young men. They should be looking and paying attention to changes in their testicles anyway,” said Victoria Cortessis, one of the study’s authors and an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles.

Further, the person’s weed intake “might be something they would want to mention to their usual health-care provider.”

Cortessis and her team analyzed the drug use of 163 young-men who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. Among these patients, who admitted to smoking marijuana, 51% told medical researchers that they smoked more than once per week.

The team then compared the drug histories of those 163 men, who had testicular canceer, with the lifestyle habits of 292 healthy men of the same age and ethnicity. The data showed that the men who had used marijuana recreationally were twice as likely to develop mixed-germ-cell tumors, including the deadlier non-seminona tumors. (The 292 unaffected men were “sampled” from the same neighborhoods in which the ill men had lived at the time of their diagnoses, Cortessis said.)

“These tumors usually occur in younger men and carry a somewhat worse prognosis” than other types of testicular cancer, the study reported.

USC’s findings also confirmed two previous reports in CANCER of an apparent link between marijuana use and cancer of the testicles, the researchers noted.

Even though smoking pot increases the chance of developing this type of cancer, the rate of such cancers occuring in men are very low. Cortessis said that there is a lifetime risk of slightly more than 1%.

“The truth is, the vast majority of men who develop testicular germ-cell tumors survive them. There’s still a small proportion that don’t. Those guys tend to have non-seminonas, unfortunately,” Cortessis said. “But also, non-seminomas require more extensive treatment, including radiation and chemotherapy.

“We’re not concerned only with preventing non-seminomas so that the malignancy doesn’t harm the man, but we’re also concerned about the later health effects for men that may be related to the more-aggressive therapy” (such as chemo), she added.

The USC scientists are not exactly sure about what internal glitches marijuana may trigger that could cause cancer. They do, however, speculate that it may begin in the body’s endocannabinoid system, the cellular network that responds to the active ingredient in marijuana. The endocannibinoid system has also been shown to be vital in the formation of sperm. The study was was funded by the National Cancer Institute.