U.S. scientists found that men who smoked one marijuana cigarette daily for 10 years or more had an estimated 36 percent increased risk of developing testicular cancer compared to men who had never smoked the substance.
Researchers came to that conclusion after analyzing 25 studies that looked at the link between marijuana use and testicular cancer, lung cancer, oral cancer, and head and neck cancer.
They wrote: “Regular marijuana use was associated with development of testicular germ cell tumors,” however, they noted that the strength of the evidence was relatively low.
As with smoking cigarettes, smoking marijuana releases carcinogens or substances that can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer. However, researchers found no association between regular marijuana use and lung, neck, or oral cancer.
The discovery contradicts previous claims by those pushing to legalize the recreational use of the drug on the basis that it can be used to treat or prevent cancer.
“Our findings are notable in a time of increasing marijuana use in the United States, with novel drug delivery methods, including vaping and edibles, becoming more popular, particularly in states that have legalized recreational use and among adolescents,” the report said.
“Furthermore, with legalization may come heavier and more long-term use that may confer a higher risk for cancer. Misinformation may constitute an additional threat to public health; cannabis is being increasingly marketed as a potential cure for cancer in the absence of evidence.”
According to statistics published by Cancer.Net in February, an estimated 9,560 men in the United States will be diagnosed with testicular cancer this year, while roughly 1 out of 250 men and boys will be diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime.
Although the disease can occur at any age, the average age of diagnosis is 33, and it is estimated that around 410 deaths this year will be associated with the disease.
The symptoms of testicular cancer include lumps or swelling of the testicles, a dull ache in the abdomen or groin, a feeling of heaviness or a sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum, and back pain.
Others include enlarged or tender breasts, loss of sexual desire and pain or discomfort in the testicles or scrotum, although some men will not feel any pain, according to Cancer.Org.
Cancer typically affects only one testicle, and men are advised to see a doctor if any of the above signs and symptoms last for longer than two weeks.