Johanna Poremba, Contributing Writer
The debate on marijuana and its long-term effects is a controversy that has been squabbled over for years. Seeing as “mary jane” is the number one commonly abused illegal drug, the levels of investigation still being done on the drug makes sense. So, is it therapeutic, or is it dangerous?
Of all this research, the major claim against marijuana has always been its cancer-inducing properties. Recently, new studies at the University of Southern California have proved that while this is true, it is linked to the most aggressive and fast growing form of testicular cancer there is. They say these mixed-germ cell tumors and the even deadlier non-seminona tumors, are caused within the body’s endocannabinoid system. This is the cellular network that reacts to the THC within marijuana, and is also vital in the formation of sperm.
The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, included comparing the illegal drug histories of 163 men with these deadly forms of cancer against the lifestyle habits of 292 healthy men of the same age and ethnicity. The results showed that men who had used marijuana recreationally were two times as likely to develop the cancerous tumors in their lifetime. Smoking more than once per week and starting the use of the drug in the teenage years also showed to increase the risk. On top of this information, researchers also announced that they believe “exposure to unidentified environmental causes” is causing a recent increase in the presence of cancerous cells. Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal by the American Cancer Society, stated that the cancer-causing effects of marijuana on testicular cells should be considered not only when recreationally using the drug, but when medically being prescribed it also. How devastatingly ironic would it be if a cancer survivor using medical marijuana ended up with testicular cancer?
Of course, much of this new information is vague and there is speculation that the study had many flaws. For example, there was no evidence that an increase in usage of marijuana would increase your risk of getting the cancer. Also, what exactly is this “unidentified” environmental cause? While many frightening speculations have been brought to the public, several important questions are still to this day left unanswered.
The truth is, testicular cancer hits our age group. From now until the mid-30s, all men are at risk. If this new information is true, it’s possible that a small percentage of male students on this very campus have an even greater probability of getting these forms of cancer in their lifetime.