Cannabis smoking linked to higher risk of testicular cancer, researchers say

New evidence published this week suggests there may be an increased risk of testicular cancer in men who smoke marijuana.

The study published in JAMA Network Open concluded that the “low-strength evidence suggests that smoking marijuana is associated with developing TGCT; its association with other cancers and the consequences of higher levels of use are unclear.”

Researchers used 25 studies from a period of 50 years that looked at the relationship between marijuana use and several forms of cancer, including testicular cancer.

Of all the cancers, they found what appears to be a link between testicular cancer and smoking one joint a day for 10 years.

Increased cannabis use among Americans was the motivation behind the study.

“Marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke share carcinogens, including toxic gases, reactive oxygen species, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, such as benzo[α]pyrene and phenols, which are 20 times higher in unfiltered marijuana than in cigarette smoke,” the researchers pointed out.

More research is needed, author says

Lead researcher Deborah Korenstein of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center said that although the risk of getting testicular cancer after a decade of weed smoking is “not huge,” it still means patients should be made aware of the study’s findings. 

However, the effect of other factors such as duration of marijuana smoking or dosage remain unclear, Korenstein added.  

“I’d hate for people to interpret that to mean that marijuana use is completely safe. The fact is that we don’t know much about the impact of heavy use, use at a very young age, or about non-smoking use,” she told Inverse.

Recently, a different study indicated marijuana use among young people could lead to a higher risk of stroke. Among the 43,000 people included in the research, heavy cannabis use was associated with a more than double chance of stroke. 

Again, the study’s authors said that although it appears there is a link between frequent cannabis use and stroke, other factors may be contributing to the increased risk and more research is needed as is frequently the case with these kinds of studies.

Hindered by its federally illegal status, research on marijuana is scarce, and as access to cannabis spreads across the United States, scientists agree more needs to be done in order to gain a deeper understanding of the plant and its effects on health. 

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