I have seen some fascinating claims about the dangers of smoking dope but this latest report is just too much. According to a new study, marijuana use may increase the risk of developing an extremely aggressive form of testicular cancer. Isn’t anything sacred anymore? But like most scary articles in the media about smoking dope, reality is either missing or obscured amongst the hype.
Given that the incidence of testicular cancer is approximately 1 in 36,266 (SEER estimate 2002) – I don’t find this to be particularly troubling.The story in the Daily Telegraph titled, Marijuana Raises Testicular Cancer Risk adds “Drug danger: “ to the link for some much needed sensationalism. And it was much needed because in reality the reported 70% increased in risk means almost nothing to most people. Most of the reporting includes the fact that the increase in risk is to an extremely aggressive form of testicular cancer. This should add to the scare factor but 70% of stuff all is still stuff all whether it’s an aggressive form of cancer or not.
-- Steve Robinson. Community Development Coordinator - WA Substance Users Association (WASUA)
Wow, a 70% increase in the chance of getting testicular cancer. I'm glad that typical misreporting of statistics came up. Sounds horrific doesn't it? But look at the facts: 8,000 cases out of 250 million people is 0.000032% of the population. Now add the 70% notional risk factor and you get 0.0000544%. It's so small as to be negligible. Beware all stories that blandly state risk factors in that fashion.At first glance, the headline is another testament to how dangerous cannabis can be. But these hysterical stories are getting old. Over the last few years, cannabis has been associated with shrinking brains to gum disease, from lung cancer to psychosis and more. Just recently the headlines screamed that cannabis is more likely to give you lung cancer than tobacco. Major media outlets picked up the story and the anti-drug crusaders were wringing their hands with glee. But it was to be another fizzer when revealed that the findings were wrong. The media had pre-empted the report’s release and took the author’s comments are gospel.
-- Michael Gormly. Kings Cross Times
Headlines suggested a study proved pot is a greater cancer risk than tobacco -- but the media didn't even wait for the report to be released. The mainstream press, always on the look out for a good pot scare story, ran blindly with Beasley's remarks. Apparently not a scribe among them felt any need to confirm whether Beasley's study -- which remained embargoed at the same time it was making worldwide headlines -- actually said what was claimed. It didn't.Some major media outlets followed suit which is now becoming a common gaff in an effort to break the news. More and more, hysterical, drug related headlines are becoming standard fare for news outlets. Even well respected or high profile media groups are guilty of this drug related sensationalism. Here are some examples of the media who were stung by the lung cancer fiasco. -Experts warn of cannabis cancer 'epidemic' - ABC -Cannabis Bigger Cancer Risk Than Cigarettes - Reuters -Smoking One Joint is Equivalent to 20 Cigarettes, Study Says - Fox News Jeremy Laurance from The Independent writes about the recent myths regarding lung cancer and links to psychosis.
-- Paul Armentano - AlterNet: Outrageous Anti-Pot Lies: Media Uses Disgraceful Cancer Scare Tactics
Critics pointed out that most cannabis users give up in their 30s, limiting their long-term exposure, which is a crucial factor in cigarette-induced lung cancer. Two long-term studies of the drug involving more than 100,000 people in total in Sweden and the US found no increase in deaths. Unlike tobacco, cannabis does not contain nicotine and so is not addictive. It was also exonerated as a cause of heart disease by a study which showed no increase in calcium deposits in the coronary arteries of young adult users of the drug, a marker of thickening of the arteries that can lead to heart attacks.Paul Armentano from AlterNet sums it up:
-- Jeremy Laurance - The Independent: The long-term health impact of cannabis is far from clear
Writing in the journal Science nearly 40 years ago, New York state university sociologist Erich Goode aptly observed: "Tests and experiments purporting to demonstrate the ravages of marijuana consumption receive enormous attention from the media, and their findings become accepted as fact by the public. But when careful refutations of such research are published, or when latter findings contradict the original pathological findings, they tend to be ignored or dismissed."The Article:
Marijuana May Raise Testicular Cancer Risk
The Daily Telegraph
MARIJUANA use may increase the risk of developing an extremely aggressive form testicular cancer, scientists have said in a study published this week.
A study of 369 American men aged between 18 to 44 with testicular cancer and 979 men in the same age bracket without the disease found that current marijuana users were 70 percent more likely to develop it compared to nonusers.
The researchers reported in the journal Cancer that the risk appeared to be highest among men who have been smoking marijuana for at least 10 years, used it more than once a week or started using it before age 18.
One of the researchers, Stephen Schwartz from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle said it was the first study to explore possible links between marijuana and testicular cancer.
“This is the first study to look at this question, and by itself is not definitive,” Dr Schwartz said.
“And there's a lot more research that would have to be done in order to be more confident that marijuana use really is important in a man's risk of developing testicular cancer.”
The study found the increased risk appeared to be in the form called nonseminoma testicular cancer.
It accounts for 40 percent of cases and can be more aggressive and more difficult to treat, Dr Schwartz said.
Experts are unsure about the causes of testicular cancer, which often strikes men in their 20s and 30s.
The disease is seen more commonly in men who have had an undescended testicle or have a family history of testicular cancer.
The researchers said they were not sure what it was about marijuana that may raise the risk.
Chronic marijuana use also can have effects on the male reproductive system including decreased sperm quality, they said.