According to a recently completed study conducted for the National Cancer Institute, young men who smoke marijuana are at a higher risk of testicular cancer. The study involved 455 men in California. The data and scientific analysis led experts to conclude that weed smoking men under the age of 35 were twice as likely to develop testicular germ cell tumors, which is the most common form of the disease in men of this age group.
One of the study’s authors was Dr. Victoria Cortessis (pictured above), an assistant professor of preventative medicine at the University of California’s Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles. Cortessis and her colleagues used interviews to investigate recreational drug use among 163 men diagnosed with testicular cancer and 292 healthy men of the same age. The study found that the men who smoked marijuana had double the risk of testicular tumors compared with men who did not use the drug. It was also found that their tumors tended to grow faster and were tougher to treat.
“Most men who get testicular cancer today survive, and that’s wonderful. But as a result of treatment, they may have problems with fertility or sexual function,” Dr. Cortessis said. “So we’re talking about the risk of developing the cancer in the first place as well as the subsequent effects of the cancer and its treatment.”
However, marijuana’s affect on the risk of testicular cancer is still unknown. In studies conducted on animals, marijuana smoke and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, reduced levels of circulating hormones.
“Guys who tried it and abandoned it may have been very young,” said Dr. Cortessis adding that her study was too small to rule out certain risks. “We plan to investigate the possibility that men who use marijuana during puberty may be especially vulnerable, which makes sense if marijuana is disrupting the hormone signaling that directs the testes to maturity.” Further follow-up study is being conducted on this issue.