Marijuana Use is Linked to Testicular Cancer

7 Apr 2013

How often do you come across some new piece of information that kind of rocks your thinking, especially when social media leads one to thinking in the opposite direction? Such is the case of a paper I read recently. This study quoted two additional studies and all three large investigations came to the same conclusion.

Regular recreational use of marijuana was found to increase your risk of developing a specific type of testicular malignant tumors. The three studies were conducted by the National Institutes of Health, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA and University of Southern California.

Each study looked at various parameters of exposure to marijuana including: history of marijuana use, age at onset of use, frequency of use, duration of use and elimination of known risks factors for developing testicular tumors. Results were the same for all three studies. A less common type of testicular tumor was found to have a strong association with the use of marijuana (see references below).

There has been a heretofore unexplained increase in this type of testicular tumor among young men over the last five decades. At a time when our culture is promoting marijuana use as an alternative to alcohol use, to the extent that some states have legalized or dramatically decriminalized the use of the most frequently used recreational drug in America, facts such as this association have not been brought to light in the media.

This kind of news is essential to disseminate to the public so that individuals who choose to use marijuana regularly may make a better decision, as cancer risk is not one of the discussed risk factors when making a decision that could change one’s life as much as driving while under the influence of alcohol. To me, neither acquiring a life-changing cancer nor suffering a mishap related to alcohol use is a wise choice.

Perhaps legislators and the public alike should be better educated about issues such as this, especially if the use of marijuana continues to escalate due to the legalized status that cannabis is beginning to enjoy across America.

Why wasn’t this information made available to the public before we voted to legalize marijuana in the State of Washington last fall? Perhaps many people would have been dissuaded from legalizing its use so quickly if medical facts such as this had been included in the public discussion. Additionally, I am baffled that the State legislature and Governor were so willing to place the young adults of our state at risk of developing a potentially fatal cancer.

References:
Cancer 2012;118:5374-83.
Cancer 2011;117:848-53.
Cancer 2009;115:1215-23.