Men who regularly smoke cannabis increase their risk of developing testicular cancer, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

A team of researchers in the United States found a link between long-term use of cannabis and the development of testicular germ cell tumors. Men with long-term cannabis use were 36 percent more likely to develop testicular cancer than those who did not use the drug.

The new study contradicts previous claims that cannabis or marijuana can treat or prevent cancer. The research team performed a meta-analysis of previous studies, which involved any probable link between urogenital, lung, head, and neck and other cancers, and using cannabis.

To arrive at their findings, the researchers identified 25-English language studies that assessed cannabis use and the risk of developing other types of cancers. In the study, they found that regular marijuana use contributed to men developing testicular germ cell tumors, although the strength of the evidence was low. Moreover, evidence of other cancers was insufficient.

“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. Long-term studies in marijuana-only smokers would improve understanding of marijuana’s association with lung, oral, and other cancers,” the researchers concluded in the study.

The team specifically found that using marijuana was not tied to oral cancer and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Further, in a pooled analysis of three case-control studies, the long-term use of marijuana for more than ten years was linked to testicular cancer.

Cannabis use

Marijuana or cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance in the United States, with about half of adults reporting using it in their lifetime. The rates of using marijuana are steadily increasing with use among young adults doubling from 10.5 percent in 2002 to a staggering 21.2 percent in 2014. The main route of marijuana use is still smoking.

The increasing use of marijuana rates, specifically among young adults, raises concerns regarding whether cannabis use increases the risk of developing cancer. Through the years, cannabis use has been accepted in some parts of the world. However, there remains scarce information on the link between the drug and health, including the development of cancer.

Marijuana poses many health benefits, which many studies claim, but its negative health effects have not been established. The study is just one to pinpoint the possible causative relationship between cannabis and cancer.

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