Cannabis linked to testicular cancer

By enquirewithin · Feb 9, 2009 · Updated Feb 9, 2009 · ·
  1. enquirewithin
    Scientists find heavy use of marijuana can double risk of tumours among men.

    The soaring rate of testicular cancer in the UK and other Western countries is linked today to the increased popularity of cannabis. Testicular cancer has more than doubled over the past 30 years and its rise parallels that of the use of cannabis, Britain's most popular illegal drug.

    Researchers in the US have found that men who regularly smoke cannabis have a 70 per cent increased risk of testicular cancer. The risk was highest – twice that of those who never used the drug – in those who smoked it at least once a week or had a long history of use, beginning in adolescence.

    The study is based on findings from 369 men with testicular cancer who were questioned about their history of cannabis use. The results were compared with 979 men who did not have cancer. Cannabis was linked with testicular cancer independently of smoking, drinking and family history.

    Experts from Cancer Research UK said it was the first time a link had been suggested and the size of the study was small. More than three million people smoke cannabis and only a tiny proportion develop the cancer.

    The results, published today in the journal Cancer, showed a link between cannabis use and one type of testicular cancer, called nonseminoma, which is aggressive, tends to strike younger men and accounts for 40 per cent of testicular cancer.

    Stephen Schwartz, an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, Washington, who led the research, said: "Our study is not the first to suggest that some aspect of a man's lifestyle or environment is a risk factor for testicular cancer but it is the first that has looked at marijuana use."

    There were 2,109 cases of testicular cancer in Britain in 2005 and 78 deaths. In 1975 there were 850 cases. Unlike other cancers, it is most common in young men with a peak incidence between the ages of 20 and 40.

    The more common, slower growing type, called seminoma, was not linked with cannabis use, even though both types have been growing by 3 to 6 per cent a year since the 1950s in the US, UK and other developed countries.

    Although testicular cancer is normally curable when caught early, some patients are not diagnosed until the disease is advanced. Undescended testes in childhood and a family history of the disease are known to increase the risk.

    The disease is thought to begin in the womb when germ cells in the foetus (those that will eventually make sperm in the adult) fail to develop properly. Exposure to male hormones in adolescence is thought to trigger development of cancer in the affected cells. Chronic cannabis use is known to reduce sperm quality and increase impotence, which are linked with testicular cancer.

    The testes have receptors for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and the male reproductive system is known to naturally produce a cannabinoid-like chemical that is thought to protect against the disease.

    The researchers speculate that cannabis may interfere with this anti-tumour effect, increasing the risk of the cancer developing.

    Janet Daling, a member of the research team, said: "It has been suggested that puberty is a window of opportunity during which lifestyle or environmental factors can increase the risk of testicular cancer. This is consistent with the study's findings that the elevated risk of nonseminoma-type testicular cancer in particular was associated with marijuana use prior to age 18."

    By Jeremy Laurance, Health editor

    Monday, 9 February 2009

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  1. Nature Boy
    Seems rather inconculsive considering the small scale of the test. More sociology than science I would think. This quote is interesting:

    "Chronic cannabis use is known to reduce sperm quality and increase impotence, which are linked with testicular cancer."

    Where's their source on this? How is it "known"? Known like an old wive's tale or known like a verifiable fact I ask.

    The problem with a lot of cannabis studies related to cancer is that they often stump and contradict themselves. This is the problem with these sociological style tests that come up with loose correlations without any clinical conditions being imposed. Of course such a thing could never be directly demonstratable but even the numbers they seek aren't that convincing. The study in question here is dubious to say the least and propagandistic to a degree. A true discovery here would involve indisputable numbers, majorities.
  2. enquirewithin
    The sample is tiny and there are no causal links, as usual. Note:

    The way the article misuses the statistics in a similar way that the articles about skunk made a link with schizophrenia. It suits the government, with Brown's idiotic reclassification of cannabis, to have articles like this printed. You would tempted to say it's all b***cks.:) Then gain, maybe we will all end up in the funny farm with our testicles amputated!
  3. Routemaster Flash
    I was about to post this story myself but saw that someone had already done so...

    Hmm, well it was the better part of 400 men, that's not a huge sample, but I don't know if I'd call it 'tiny' either. It's tempting to want to rubbish the whole thing, but just because governments often talk a load of shit about the drug (and many others) that doesn't mean any given suspected health hazard is necessarily untrue. Also bear in mind the findings were published by a cancer research institute, which is presumably government-funded but not actually part of government itself.
  4. Potter
    Marijuana Use May Significantly Increase Risk of Testicular Cancer

    Marijuana Use May Significantly Increase Risk of Testicular Cancer

    Tuesday February 10, 2009 (1604 PST)

    According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the U.S., with 95 million Americans age 12 and older having used the drug at least once, and three out of every four illegal drugs users reporting its use within the previous 30 days. Most users perceive marijuana as a natural herb thereby believing it to be harmless.

    In truth, the habitual use of marijuana has been proven to cause concentration and thinking problems, deficits in mathematical skills and verbal expression, as well as selective impairments in memory retrieval processes. It can also lead to increased anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and other mental health problems. The long-term consequences of using marijuana include poor academic performance, poor job performance, cognitive deficits, and even lung damage.

    New U.S. research has now added to the ever-growing list of dangers associated with the use of marijuana. The new study has shown that people who frequently use marijuana may be at more than double the risk of developing testicular cancer.

    The study included 369 men from the Seattle-Puget Sound area who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer as well as 979 men without the disease. The study participants ranged in age from 18 to 44. Each participant was asked about his history of marijuana use. The findings revealed that current marijuana users were 70 percent more likely to develop a testicular malignancy than nonusers.

    The risk was shown to be highest among those who had used marijuana for at 10 years or longer or began their usage before age 18 as well as those currently using it more than once a week. In addition, the study results suggested that a specific type of testicular cancer known as nonseminoma was linked to the drug’s use. Nonseminoma is a fast-progressing testicular malignancy that accounts for approximately 40 percent of all testicular cancer cases and most often develops in people between the ages of 20 and 35. The results of the analysis were published in the journal Cancer.

    Research group member Stephen Schwartz, an epidemiologist and member of the Public Health Sciences Division at the Seattle`s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said, “Our study is not the first to suggest that some aspect of a man`s lifestyle or environment is a risk factor for testicular cancer, but it is the first that has looked at marijuana use.”

    Although experts remain uncertain as to the causes of testicular cancer, known risk factors include a family history of the disease, undescended testes and abnormal testicular development. The link between marijuana use and the disease may be attributed to a disruption of the effects of a chemical that is naturally produced by the male reproductive system believed to have a protective effect against cancer.

    Approximately 8,000 men within the U.S. are diagnosed with testicular cancer annually. According to the American Cancer Society, The disease has a five-year survival rate of about 96 percent as it usually responds well to treatment. However, some patients are not diagnosed until the disease is in its advanced stages. Performing regular testicular self-examinations can help to insure successful treatment by identifying growths that are still in the early stages.



  5. Milk man
    Re: Marijuana Use May Significantly Increase Risk of Testicular Cancer

    There are a few mistakes here.... woman can't get testicular cancer and unless you are assuming that nearly every male smokes pot, then 42% of the US population is a bit high. Maybe 25% of the male population but the odds are still quite high that nothing will happen.

    Swim thinks pot is quite safe...
  6. enquirewithin
  7. Greenport
    As such NORML seems to disagree, however unfortunately (and this is coming from someone who supports the decriminalization effort) it almost seems like they were just trying to disprove it with not enough emphasis on whether it does or not.

    Personally I don't know if it does or not, but it wouldn't surprise me to see that it has some role in the cancer. This is a case which is more media-based and less statistically based. There needs to be a proper study done before anyone can claim that it does or doesn't, and why, before the media starts throwing everything out of proportion like it is doing.
  8. enquirewithin
    The media has such a poor record in all areas that the default reaction of a thinking person would be to reject such a story. Those who believe in media 'balance' and related myths can consult FAIR (for the US) or the Media Lens (for the UK).
  9. Jasim
    I agree. It's a spurious correlation. And one can never draw inferences or determine causality with spurious correlations.

    However, it does remind me of something I read before involving 'old' sperm and prostrate cancer. It was found that men who did not ejaculate often (1-2 a week I think) were at higher risk of developing prostrate cancer. They speculated that it was due to a build up of 'old' sperm that needed to be flushed out of the system. I can try to find the source for this if anyone is interested.
  10. cannabis-sam
    More rediculous crap, being spouted. Never trust newspaper science. Infact never trust the papers. Personally I'll read the medical journals and the full studies, done by non biast experts to get my information. Not some scaremongering journalist trying to sell a paper by feeding the masses with the sort of crap they want to hear.

    Man that sentance made me laugh my arse off:laugh:
  11. Routemaster Flash
    Not even the supposedly 'liberal' ones - remember a year or two ago when the Independent did that big cover piece saying, basically, "We're sorry we once supported decriminalising cannabis, turns out it really is 25 times stronger than it used to be, so don't smoke it or you'll catch schizophrenia"? Gah. Bunch of wankers. I hate the Indie. :mad:
  12. Nature Boy
    I don't think that has to do with 'old' sperm as such. It's probably more down to natural stagnation and degradation. From an evolutionary perspective, it isn't normal for men not to have an orgasm for a prolonged period of time. Of course society changes this. Some people may not resort to masturbation for lack of a sexual partner as they might not be into that. Religious celibacy or guilt also plays a massive role. Most health forums (fora) are littered with posts from Born Again Christians concerned about their sexual health due to the stigmas attached to deriving pleasure from sexual activity.
  13. Routemaster Flash
    I think there are certain enzymes involved in making seminal fluid that need trace elements like zinc and selenium - so it makes sense that if chemically similar but perhaps harmful heavy elements* are going to accumulate anywhere in the body, it's going to be in the prostate. So getting rid of seminal fluid regularly reduces the risk of harmful exposure to these elements.

    Single men, do your duty: wanking is good for you! :)

    *for instance, cadmium and mercury are in the same group, or chemical 'family', as zinc
  14. Jasim
    That's interesting. I know this is getting off topic, but I would like to see a source on this.

    Any speculation on a possible mechanism of marijuana involvement?
  15. Routemaster Flash
    I just remember this from something I read in New Scientist a few years ago, which seems to be supported by one study here:

    But they say a more recent study suggests more frequent ejaculation makes prostate cancer more likely in later life. I've an explanation that young men who either have more sex or masturbate more do it just because they're hornier than others, and that this is due to higher levels of hormones that make cancer more likely, i.e. it's the same factor leading to both higher ejaculation frequency and greater cancer risk. Short answer is that it all seems quite speculative.

    Not from me I'm afraid, I don't know anything about this. And this story is about testicular, not prostate, cancer.
  16. Herbal Healer 019
    Cannabis has been shown to reduce tumor size & have tumor/cancer inhibiting properties so the claim that cannabis causes testicular cancer is unfounded.

    Also the only evidence they have is that most of the people with testicular cancer were cannabis users at the time of their diagnoses. Thats hardly what I'd call quality scientific evidence.
  17. Coconut
    I thought it was THC, not cannabis in general, which was found to shrink tumours, and that cannabis smoking did not increase the probability of developing lung cancer specifically.
  18. JackARoe
    Agreed. To quote JB from another forum: 65% of murders ate french fries within a week of murdering. So french fries are a major cause and linked to murders.

    Of course this is nonsense. Ou society can't have people smoking marijuana and protesting anything the governments will do. Pot smokers stick flowers in guns and protest wars. So, society can't have that. So studies showing that wine is healthy for you is a way to keep us peoples stupid. We all know it's the grapes in wine, not the alcohol. This crap is very transparent. Fake studies to scare people. It's laughable to any somewhat intelligent people. And remember, Pharma companies can dispense drugs and make money. That seems ok though even though some of these new drugs can cause major problems. GRRRR.
  19. Herbal Healer 019
    Other cannabinoids in cannabis hav anti-cancer properties as well.
  20. Coconut
    Yes, I should have said cannabinoids, not THC. But is there evidence that consumption of cannabis itself, not isolated cannabinoids, inhibits or prevents any cancer other than lung cancer? That's what I meant.
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