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Report: Marijuana Use May Increase Risk of Prostate Cancer; Cocaine Use Lowers it?

Update Date: Sep 10, 2012 08:55 AM EDT

Attention to all Bros and Bud-Lovers: according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal CANCER, researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) have discovered a link between marijuana use and an increased risk of "developing subtypes of testicular cancer that tend to carry a somewhat worse prognosis," as stated in a report from Wiley science news room.Results suggest that  the potential cancer-causing effects of marijuana on testicular cells should be considered not only in personal decisions regarding recreational drug use, but also when marijuana and its derivatives are used for therapeutic purposes in young male patients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that testicular cancer is the most prevalent diagnosis in young men between the ages of 15 and 45. The study reveals that malignancy in patients diagnosed is becoming more common. While researchers had initially hypothesized that environmental changes were the root cause of the the increased numbers of dire prognosis, they were prompted to test whether marijuana was involved after more and more patients admitted to using.

 Victoria Cortessis, MSPH, PhD, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, and her colleagues looked at the self-reported history of recreational drug use in 163 young men diagnosed with testicular cancer and compared it with that of 292 healthy men of the same age and race/ethnicity.

The findings suggest that men with a history of using marijuana were twice as likely to have subtypes of testicular cancer called 'non-seminoma' and mixed germ cell tumors. According to the report released by Wiley, "these tumors usually occur in younger men and carry a somewhat worse prognosis than the seminoma subtype." The study's findings confirm those from two previous reports in CANCER that purport a link between marijuana use and testicular cancer.

"We do not know what marijuana triggers in the testis that may lead to carcinogenesis, although we speculate that it may be acting through the endocannabinoid system-the cellular network that responds to the active ingredient in marijuana-since this system has been shown to be important in the formation of sperm," said Cortessis in a statement to the press.

Interestingly enough, cocain users were shown to have a reduced risk of both subtypes of testicular cancer. Though researchers are not entirely sure why this is either, they suspect, the drug may kill sperm-producing germ cells since it has this effect on experimental animals.

"If this is correct, then 'prevention' would come at a high price," Cortessis continues. "Although germ cells can not develop cancer if they are first destroyed, fertility would also be impaired. Since this is the first study in which an association between cocaine use and lower testis cancer risk is noted, additional epidemiological studies are needed to validate the results."

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