Marijuana use may increase testicular cancer risk

September 19, 2012

Researchers from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles have found a link between recreational marijuana use and an increased risk of developing subtypes of testicular cancer that tend to carry a worse prognosis.

Researchers from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles have found a link between recreational marijuana use and an increased risk of developing subtypes of testicular cancer that tend to carry a worse prognosis.

Published online in Cancer (Sept. 10, 2012), the findings suggest that the potential cancer-causing effects of marijuana on testicular cells should be considered not only in personal decisions regarding recreational drug use, but also when marijuana and its derivatives are used for therapeutic purposes in young male patients.

Senior author Victoria Cortessis, MSPH, PhD, and colleagues looked at the self-reported history of recreational drug use in 163 young men diagnosed with testicular cancer and compared it with that of 292 healthy men of the same age and race/ethnicity.

The authors found that men with a history of using marijuana were twice as likely to have non-seminoma and mixed germ cell tumors.

"We do not know what marijuana triggers in the testis that may lead to carcinogenesis, although we speculate that it may be acting through the endocannabinoid system-the cellular network that responds to the active ingredient in marijuana-since this system has been shown to be important in the formation of sperm," Dr. Cortessis said.

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