Recreational use of marijuana has been tied to an increase in the risk of subtypes of cancer of the testicles, that usually carry a prognosis that is worse than others are, said researchers in the U.S.
Assistant professor Victoria Cortessis from the University of Southern California’s Keck School in Los Angeles along with her colleagues looked into the self-reported histories of 163 recreational drug users who were male and had been diagnosed with a form of testicular cancer. Those results were compared to 292 men who were healthy, about the same age and the same race or ethnicity. Researchers said they believed the increase in this form of cancer, which is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 45 is from the increased exposure to environmental causes that are still unrecognized.
The new study was published online in advance of its printed edition that will appear in the journal Cancer. It found that men with a history of marijuana use were up to two times more likely to have testicular cancer such as non-seminoma along with mixed germ cell tumors. The germ cell tumors usually happen in men that are younger and have a worse prognosis than the subtype seminoma.
The researchers said they were not sure what the marijuana use triggers inside the testis that might lead to cancer developing. However, they speculate it is working through the endocannabinoid system, the cellular network, which responds to marijuana’s active ingredient. They believe that because that system has been proven important in sperm formation.