Marijuana may bring more than joy
Study shows connection between smoking cannibis and testicular cancer
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 00:09
Testicular cancer rates are going up. More young people are smoking pot. Does that necessarily mean one causes the other?
Victoria Cortessis, one of the researchers behind the recent study showing a connection between cannabis use and testicular cancer, said it might. She said it was found that men who reported they had used cannabis experienced twice the risk of testicular cancer than those who did not.
However, according to the scientific article, “Population-Based Case-Control Study of Recreational Drug Use and Testis Cancer Risk Confirms an Association Between Marijuana Use and Nonseminoma Risk,” there is an association between cannabis use and testicular cancer. Natural medicine doctor William Eidelman said association is not causation.
“Cannabis has proven to be safe,” he said. “The only harm from cannabis is the fact that it’s illegal, and people are programmed to believe it’s bad, but the actual damage from cannabis is very rare — if at all.”
Cortessis said there is other legitimate research showing several beneficial effects of cannabis, such as anti-cancer effects. Eidelman said most research shows this.
However, Cortessis said there are substances that cause one cancer but do not cause another. Progesterone use causes breast cancer but prevents endometria cancer, so she said it is possible for a substance to cause one cancer and prevent another type.
“I find that that (cannabis being anti-cancer) work is equally important,” Cortessis said. “It’s not in conflict with this at all.”
This study was not started specifically for cannabis, either. It was designed for many exposures the researchers considered as candidates. The men interviewed were asked about cocaine, LSD, mushroom, tobacco, cigarette and other drug use. Cannabis use was most prevalent in the men with testicular cancer.
These men were asked if they smoked cannabis, when they started, when they stopped (if they have) and how much they smoke a day. Yet these men were not asked how their cannabis was smoked.
For those inexperienced in the cannabis field, cannabis can be smoked through several mediums: bong, bowl, joint paper or blunt paper. Blunt papers contain the same toxic, carcinogenic compounds found in cigarettes.
Cortessis said she and the other researchers looked at cannabis and testicular together to sort out whether it is the smoke instead of the cannabis. She said it is likely to be a specific constituent of cannabis or the leaves burning.
“It’s been shown, sadly, that there are many, many specific compounds in cigarette smoke that are mutagens and carcinogens that are also in marijuana smoke,” she said.
Plattsburgh State student Luis Muñoz said he never heard of cannabis use causing testicular cancer. He does not quite believe it, either.
“I don’t see how it (cannabis use) can affect your balls,” Muñoz said.
PSUC student Benjamin Winslow is not so sure.
“I try not to blindly just believe things I hear from people, but I wouldn’t find it (connection between cannabis use and testicular cancer) unbelievable,” Winslow said.
If the study were found definite, he said he would not be surprised. Everyone says there are no harmful effects of smoking cannabis, so there has to be some sort of pitfall, Winslow said.
However, these studies are still in a preliminary stage. Cortessis said she is interested in developing a more detailed study. It would examine how the cannabis is smoked and whether the age a man is smoking cannabis is important.
“If a man is smoking marijuana before his puberty is complete, it might affect his testicle for cancer,” she said.
It has been shown that cannabis smoke or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in cannabis that gets users high, exposed to animals reduces the amount of testosterone in the animal’s body, Cortessis said. The same goes with men shown smoking cannabis.
This is simply an observation by Cortessis, however. It is not definite, but she said she needs to dig deeper.
“There may be another limitation about this study,” Cortessis said.