Recent studies have now shown that marijuana may increase the risk of testicular cancer in young men by 200%.
The study, conducted by the American Cancer Society’s journal, Cancer, also shows this risk to be higher with tumors that are more severe.
And this isn’t the only study of its kind showing the similar results. In both 2009 and 2010 other studies found the same sort of relationship.
“This is a very consistent finding now that marijuana seems to be associated with the worst kind of testis cancer that occurs in young men … (it) may well be casual,” stated the author of the study, Victoria Cortessis. Cortessis is an associate professor of preventative medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles.
About Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer begins in the testicles. It’s cause is unknown but there are a number of risk factors that have been shown to increase the risk of developing the disease. Risk factors include the history of an undescended testicle, a history of previous testicular cancer, abnormal testicle development, testicular cancer in the family history, exposure to certain chemicals and Klinefelter syndrome. Any age man can develop the disease, although it is rare in younger boys.
Symptoms Of Testicular Cancer
There are a number of symptoms and signs that may point towards testicular cancer, which can include a change in the way the testicle feels or looks, a lump or swelling in the area, a feeling of pain or discomfort in the testicle itself or pain in the abdomen or lower back.
Treatments Of Testicular Cancer
Where testicular cancer can become more difficult to treat is when it spreads to other parts of the man’s body. It can move to the retroperitoneal area (which is behind the organs in the stomach, near the kidneys), lungs, abdomen and spine. Complications can also arise due to surgery which can include infertility and infection and/or bleeding following surgery. Treatment itself will be dependent on the stage and type of the tumor.
Because there is no exact cause of testicular cancer, there are no known preventative measures.
On the good news front, testicular cancer is one of the most treatable and curable cancers. For those with early-stage seminoma the survival rate is greater than 95%. The National Cancer Institute reports that 8,590 cases occur each year and out of those, 360 men will die.
What is interesting to note, is that the instances of testicular cancer is increasing rapidly. Cortessis reports that for each 20 to 30 years that passes, the rate will increase by as much as double. It has also been found that marijuana use is increasing as well.
“It may be that marijuana use is actually interfering with hormonal signaling in a way that disturbs function of the testis,” stated Cortessis. “That’s a possibility – that’s something that we can now formulate specific hypotheses about and try to understand.”
The study took a look at recreational drug use among a group of 163 men who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. During the time of the study, between 1986 and 1991, the men were between the ages of 18 and 35 and were all from Los Angeles County.
The research gathered for the study included information detailing their various drug use (what drugs, how often and when) as well as a detailed family history of cancer. This information was then placed next to that of healthy men in the same race, age and ethnicity group for comparison purposes. By doing this, a pattern showed up.
The pattern showed that for those men who had used marijuana, over a long period, had no greater of a risk. The research showed that “early experimental use,” that was in fact short-term, was what may be triggering the increased cancer risk instead.
“But that is speculation, and something we’re going to look into with data in the future,” added Cortessis.
“… That certainly seems plausible because we know that hormonal signaling governs a great deal of the sexual development of the testis. It may be that guys who, when they’re still pretty young, going through puberty, if they are experimenting with marijuana, it may be that that is the most harmful period when this could happen, but that’s only one possible interpretation of those data,” finished Cortessis.
The study certainly draws attention to the link between marijuana and testicular cancer, a link that shouldn’t be taken likely. It even leads some to question the merits of medicinal marijuana use in young males.
If you experience any of the symptoms outlined, or above the age of 30, you should get checked out by a medical professional. Additionally, once males get above the age of 35, they should have yearly physicals for preventative measures.