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Does Marijuana Use Increase Risk of Testicular Cancer?

Natan Rosenfeld Natan Rosenfeld January 19, 2021
Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen
Additions/comments by Urologist Steven N. Gange, MD

A team of American researchers analyzed data from 25 different studies involving regular cannabis use in adults and subsequent cancer risk. They defined “regular cannabis use” as smoking at least one joint per day. Then, they compared cancer risks between smokers and non-smokers. The researchers found no significant evidence linking marijuana to any type of cancer–other than testicular cancer. However, it’s important to note that the researchers admitted that the evidence they did find was “low-strength,” meaning they didn’t have anything concrete. The researchers did not study the effects of using any other type of marijuana, such as edibles.

“Low-strength evidence suggests that smoking marijuana is associated with developing [testicular cancer]; its association with other cancers and the consequences of higher levels of use are unclear. Long-term studies in marijuana-only smokers would improve understanding of marijuana’s association with lung, oral, and other cancers,” the researchers wrote. 

 

Although the results weren’t exactly clear, it’s still something to consider before choosing to use cannabis. It’s likely, though, that many of the negative effects attributed to the drug come from smoking it, as combustion of any substance releases many carcinogens into the body.

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Sexual Health - Drugs Affecting Orgasm

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Earlier studies on the topic also found a link between marijuana and testicular cancer. A 2012 study from the University of Southern California found a “potential” association between cannabis and testicular cancer. But the study only recruited around 450 men overall, a relatively small sample size. In 2018, though, a much larger study was done. 49,343 Swedish men aged 18 to 21 were followed over the course of 45 years, from 1970 to 2011. Their cannabis use was self-reported. The study concluded that those who used cannabis at some point during their lifetime had no increased risk of testicular cancer, but those who smoked cannabis more than 50 times in their lifetime (defined as “heavy” cannabis use) were 2.5 times more likely to develop testicular cancer.

 

Based on the above studies, it’s possible that marijuana can increase one’s risk of testicular cancer, if used regularly. Although the research isn’t fully clear, men may want to limit their cannabis use, or stop it entirely, if they’re concerned. 

 

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