10/09/2012 11:12 BST | Updated 11/09/2012 16:14 BST

Cannabis Use May Increase Risk Of Testicular Cancer - But Cocaine Decreases It

A new study has reported a link between smoking weed and an increased risk of developing testicular cancer

According to a new study from the University of Southern California (USC), recreational marijuana use carries an increased risk of developing aggressive strains of testicular cancer.

However, the researchers also discovered men with a history of using cocaine had a reduced chance of becoming ill.


Could smoking cannabis increase chance of testicular cancer?

"We do not know what marijuana triggers in the testis, 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 study leader, Victoria Cortessis, in a statement.


While it is unknown how cocaine may influence testicular cancer risk, the authors suspect that the drug may kill sperm-producing germ cells since it has this effect on experimental animals.

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"If this is correct, then 'prevention' would come at a high price," Cortessis said.

"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."

The research is published in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.