Marijuana Use Doubles Risk While Cocaine Halves Risk of Testicular Cancer, New Study Says
Men who have ever used marijuana have double the risk of developing testicular cancer compared to those who have never used, according to a new study. Study participants who reported ever using cocaine had nearly half the risk of developing testicular tumors compared to those who had not.
The peer-reviewed study, conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Keck School of Medicine and published in the journal Cancer, found that men who had ever used marijuana, used less than once per week, or used for less than ten years were more than twice as likely to develop testicular cancer as those who had never used marijuana. Study participants who reported more frequent use had a “lesser and non-statistically significant” increase in risk.
Testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs) are the most common tumors for adolescent and adult men aged 15 to 45 years old, according to the study. 163 male patients who were diagnosed with TGCT in Los Angeles County from Dec.1986 to Apr. 1991 were enrolled in the study and asked to provide self-reported history of recreational drug use. Patients were compared with 292 healthy men of the same age, race/ethnicity, education, and religion.
“The group that is at risk for developing these tumors is overwhelmingly young men,” 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. “The potential cancer-causing effects of marijuana on testicular cells should be considered not only in personal decisions regarding recreational drug use, but also when marijuana and its derivatives are used for therapeutic purposes in young male patients.”
Steve DeAngelo, co-founder of Harborside Health Center in Oakland, said in a statement to NBC News that the study “stands in contrast to several recent studies which have found that cannabis actually has cancer fighting properties. The study is reporting a correlation, as opposed to a causal connection between cannabis use and the cancers. It is a well-established scientific principle that correlation does not equal causality.”
The researchers also discovered that men with a history of using cocaine had half the risk of developing testicular cancer. According to a USC press release, while it is “unknown how cocaine may influence testicular cancer risk, the authors suspect that the drug may kill sperm-producing germ cells since it has this effect on experimental animals.”
Lindsay Abrams, “Study: Marijuana Use Doubles Risk of Testicular Cancer,” atlantic.com, Sep. 11, 2012
Bill Briggs, “Dude, It’s Your Junk! Pot Linked to Testicular Cancer,” today.msnbc.msn.com, Sep. 10, 2012
Victoria Cortessis, PhD, “Marijuana Use May Increase Risk of Testicular Cancer,” keck.usc.edu, Sep. 10, 2012
Victoria Cortessis, PhD, “Population-based Case-control Study of Recreational Drug Use and Testis Cancer Risk Confirms an Association Between Marijuana Use and Nonseminoma Risk,” Cancer, Sep. 10, 2012
Amy Molnar, “Marijuana Use May Increase Risk of Testicular Cancer,” eurekalert.org, Sep. 10, 2012
Buddy T, “Smoking Marijuana Doubles Risk of Testicular Cancer,” alcoholism.about.com, Sep. 13, 2012