Smoking Marijuana Raises Risk of Testicular Cancer

Marijuana smoking in the US, Canada, and Europe has risen 3 to 6% a year for the last 50 years or so. Along with this, the number of nonseminomatous germ cell tumors (NSGCT) of the testicle has risen by the same amount. NSGCT’s are the most aggressive form of testicular cancer, accounting for 40% of testes tumors and primarily found in men aged 20 to 40.

Marijuana smoking is associated with reduced fertility, low testosterone, and impotency, and all these factors were linked to testicular cancer in the past. Now a more direct relationship between marijuana and cancer has been shown by Drs. Schwartz and Daling at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. Both the brain and the testicles have receptors for THC, the active chemical in marijuana, suggesting a reason for the link between marijuana and testicular cancer.

To figure this out, 369 patients diagnosed in their center with testicular cancer were interviewed regarding their use of marijuana, both by amount used and be age of use. Other habits such as smoking and alcohol use were also analyzed, and ruled out as contributors to increased risk of testicular cancer. They found that the increased risk was even higher if the marijuana use was incurred prior to the age of 18, presumably because the effects were induced earlier in the susceptible period for those patients.

Smoking causes lung cancer; smoking marijuana seems to cause testicular cancer in some patients. I won’t be lighting up with either anytime soon.

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