Marijuana Use Linked to Risk of Testicular Cancer

Doubles Risk Compared to Non-Smokers

Man Smoking Marijuana Joint
Increased Risk for Testicular Cancer. © Getty Images

If you are a male between the ages of 20 and 35, and you are a frequent or long-time marijuana smoker, you could be significantly increasing your risk of developing testicular cancer.

If you do develop testicular cancer and you smoke marijuana, it will more likely be the fast-growing (non-seminoma) malignancy that strikes between these ages and accounts for about 40% of all testicular-cancer cases.

Smoking Marijuana Doubles the Risk

Research has shown that being a marijuana smoker is associated with a 70% increased risk of being diagnosed with testicular cancer. For young men who smoke marijuana at least weekly or who began long-term marijuana use during adolescence, the risk of developing testicular cancer is double the rate of non-smokers.

Long-term marijuana use has been shown to decrease sperm quality and testosterone and contribute to male impotence. Unfortunately for chronic marijuana users, male infertility and poor semen quality have also been linked to an increased risk of testicular cancer.

A Rare Form of Cancer

The good news for marijuana smokers is that testicular cancer is very rare. Only 1% percent of all cancers in American men is testicular cancer. About 8,000 men are diagnosed with cancer each year, and 390 die each year from the disease.

However, it is the most common form of cancer for men who are between the ages of 15 to 34.

It is most common in white men, especially those of Scandinavian descent.

But the incidence of testicular cancer is increasing. Since the 1950s, the incidence of testicular cancer has increased by 3% to 6% in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Because marijuana use has increased in those countries significantly during the same time period, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center decided to see if there was some connection.

Taking a Risk With Your Health

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center study was the first ever to link testicular cancer with marijuana use. But the study's findings were clear that the elevated risk of non-seminoma type testicular cancer is associated with marijuana use prior to age 18.

The Center's scientists admit that more research is needed to determine the full extent of long-term marijuana use, but their studies so far provide some evidence that testicular cancer could be one of the consequences of chronic pot smoking.

Even in the absence of more certain information, the authors suggest that a decision to smoke marijuana recreationally is taking a chance with your future health.