Though Daling emphasized that the findings are preliminary, she suggested that attention should be paid.
According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, testicular cancer is very rare, accounting for just 1% of cancers among American men. Nevertheless, the disease is the most common type of cancer for American men between the ages of 15 and 34, the study noted.
No link was found between the drug and a less aggressive and more prevalent form of the disease, known as seminoma, which strikes 60% of testicular cancer patients.
As well, previous human and animal research has indicated that marijuana use might lead to reduced hormonal production (particularly testosterone), poorer semen quality and impotency in men.
“Since we know that the incidence of testicular cancer has been rising in our country and in Europe over the last 40 years and that marijuana use has also risen over the same time, it seemed logical that there might be an association between the two,” said study co-author Janet Daling, an epidemiologist and member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s public health sciences division in Seattle. “And when I analyzed the data, we found a fairly strong relationship with this aggressive type of testicular cancer.”
“We know very little about the long-term health consequences of marijuana smoking,” she cautioned. “So, although this is the first time this association has been studied and found — and the finding does need to be replicated before we are really sure what’s going on — this does give some evidence that testicular cancer may be one result from the frequent use of marijuana. And that is something that young people should keep in mind.”
Along those lines, the researchers noted that the testes could be particularly vulnerable to the effects of marijuana, given that the organ — along with the brain, heart, uterus and spleen — carries specific receptors for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
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I am going to need SOME study that shows that cannabis causes Testicular Cancer. The study will have to be much better than poorly controlled survey type retrospective studies.
1. The study group was way, way too small. How can you have a control group of less 150 men
for a study like this, when the incidence of Testicular Cancer is 0.4% or 1 in 280! In my opinion, this
alone makes the report useless.
2. In the report, it is reported that the higher dose users of cannabis did NOT have an increased
incidence of Testicular Cancer. This just makes no sense at all.
3. The lead scientist of the study openly states that their selection bias might have been a
problem. This will turn out to be the real problem with this study.
4. This study was a simple retrospective or “survey” study. This type of study CANNOT EVER BE
USED TO TRY PROVE CAUSE AND EFFECT. Ultimately, the only studies that can show cause and
effect are prospective controlled studies. There are potentially 10 other differences in the
two cohort groups they studied. With a study in young males there are many issues that must
be controlled for.
5. “The people who had been diagnosed with Testicular Cancer were less likely than controls to
report religious affiliation.” This is a direct quote, so maybe the church activities are
to blame for the presumed Cancer increase.
6. Another downplayed but intriguing finding was that cocaine “protected” against Testicular
cancer. This seems as unlikely as Cannabis Causing this cancer.
7. Heavy users actually had a reduced likelihood of developing testicular cancer.
8. Thousands of good scientific articles are now flooding the world with good evidence that both
CBD and THC kill cancer cells.
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After reviewing the article:
There are "acid" and "neutral" forms of every cannabinoid molecule. Early man knew the difference and would either just eat the cannabis raw, or heat it to convert to the neutral or "active" forms of the cannabinoids.
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In the meantime, Schwartz said, "What young men should know is that first, we know very little about the long-term health consequences of marijuana smoking, especially heavy marijuana smoking; and second, our study provides some evidence that testicular cancer could be one adverse consequence," he said. "So, in the absence of more certain information, a decision to smoke marijuana recreationally means that one is taking a chance on one’s future health."
In future studies the researchers plan to measure the expression of cannabinoid receptors in both seminomatous and nonseminomatous tumor tissue from the cases in the study, and to see whether variation in the genes for the receptors and other molecules involved in cannabinoid signaling influences the risk of testicular cancer.
For the population-based, case-control study, Daling, Schwartz and colleagues interviewed 369 Seattle-Puget Sound-area men, ages 18 to 44, who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer about their history of marijuana use. For comparison purposes they also assessed marijuana use among 979 randomly selected age- and geography-matched healthy controls. (More than 90 percent of the cases and 80 percent of the controls in the study were Hispanic or non-Hispanic white men, due to the fact that testicular cancer is very rare in African-Americans, and because the Seattle-Puget Sound region has a relatively small African-American population.)
Since the 1950s, the incidence of the two main cellular subtypes of testicular cancer, nonseminoma and seminoma – the more common, slower growing kind that strikes men in their 30s and 40s – has increased by 3 percent to 6 percent per year in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. During the same time period, marijuana use in North America, Europe and Australia has risen accordingly, which is one of several factors that led the researchers to hypothesize a potential association.
"Just as the changing hormonal environment of adolescence and adulthood can trigger undifferentiated fetal germ cells to become cancerous, it has been suggested that puberty is a ‘window of opportunity’ during which lifestyle or environmental factors also can increase the risk of testicular cancer," said senior author Janet R. Daling, Ph.D., an epidemiologist who is also a member of the Center’s Public Health Sciences Division. "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."
The male reproductive system also naturally produces a cannabinoid-like chemical that is thought to have a protective effect against cancer. The authors speculate that marijuana use may disrupt this anti-tumor effect, which could be another explanation for the possible link between marijuana and increased risk of testicular cancer.
Study participants were also asked about other habits that may be correlated with marijuana use, including smoking and alcohol consumption. Even after statistically controlling for these lifestyle factors, as well as other risk factors, such as first-degree family history of testicular cancer and a history of undescended testes, marijuana use emerged as a significant, independent risk factor for testicular cancer.