Media Hysterics About Supposed Cancer Link Nothing New

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 10, 2009

    It must have been a slow news day.

    According to Google News, more than 750 media outlets — that’s 7-5-0, folks — have now weighed in on this week’s pot scare story du jour: “Smoking marijuana causes testicular cancer.”

    So is there any truth behind the provocative headline? Some, but hardly enough to justify the media’s feeding frenzy.

    Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research in Seattle matched 369 men with of testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs) with 979 healthy controls. Here’s what they found.

    Men who self-reported having “ever used” marijuana had no statistically significant risk of testicular cancer compared to healthy controls who never used pot.

    Men who reported currently using marijuana at least once per week, and who had started smoking pot prior to age 18, had an elevated risk compared to controls of contracting a type of testicular cancer known as nonseminoma.

    Sounds scary, huh?  Well here’s the catch.

    According to the federal government, millions of people smoke marijuana regularly. By contrast, diagnoses of nonseminoma, which typically affects males between the ages of 15 and 34, are extremely rare.

    How rare?

    Nonseminomas account for fewer than one half of one percent of all cancers among American men.

    Further undermining the study’s hypothesis is this: Since the 1970s, the percentage of American males smoking pot has climbed dramatically. By contrast, incidences of nonseminoma have risen only nominally during this same time period.

    Of course, this is hardly the first time the mainstream media has jumped ugly on cannabis. Around this same time last year, news outlets from Reuters to Fox News declared that marijuana posed a greater cancer risk than cigarettes. Only problem was that the study they were reporting on actually demonstrated the opposite.

    So why does the mainstream media continue to get the story wrong when it comes to pot? Good question. You can read my abbreviated answer here. And while you’re on NORML’s site, get the skinny on what the scientific literature really has to say about any potential links between marijuana and cancer here, here, and here.

    44 responses to “Media Hysterics About Supposed Cancer Link Nothing New”

    1. Mark says:

      This is what is called “selective journalism”.

      “The study, by scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and published in the journal Cancer, asked 369 testicular cancer patients if they had a history of marijuana use.

      A further 979 healthy men were asked about their use of the drug.

      Being an existing cannabis user raised the risk of cancer by 70 per cent, while men who had used the drug regularly from puberty were twice as likely to develop the disease than those who had not used it.”

      Does anyboby see the disproportion of the patients? They only tested 369 guys with testicular cancer. But they tested 979 healthy men? And from that they declare that pot causes cancer?

      This article was also EDITED. The original article on the MSN homepage included a paragraph that stated that this study WAS INCONCLUSIVE and that more testing needed to be done!!!!

      I am 50, and have smoked cannabis every day for 37 years. My nuts are fine. My brother just lost a nut. He never smoked pot in his life and he is 48.

      There are well over 1 million cannabis users in America. If this study were anywhere near accurate, 350,000 of them would already have testicular cancer. They don’t. Otherwise we would have seen the epidemic that the government wants you to believe will happen if you smoke the evil weed.

      And the timing of this article: coincidental? On the heels of the Phelps/Kelloggs controversy and just when the legalization movement is gaining steam? Just when Obama says he will stop the raids on medical marijuana dispensaries?

      You see, the DEA is just like the rest of America when it comes to the economy. They need a job too.

      And just like most of America, they “don’t wanna work, they just want to bang on the drum all day”, so they want the easy job of going after harmless, non violent pot smokers instead of the dangerous, violent dealers and users of Alcohol, tobacco, meth, heroin and coke.

      Well lets keep them employed doing real work.

      A DEA agent going after a pot smoker is no better than a slacker employee at McDonalds who’s only motivation for showing up to work is an easy paycheck.

    2. Jeff says:

      The Government Lies

      The Media Lies

      Where is the Truth anymore???

      i Think Deep Down they know…
      But they jus dont wanna admit their Wrong…

    3. Jack says:

      When they say my chance of getting cancer is so great that after only a few joints over a weekend once in while increases my risk 20 fold, then I’ll listen. Not when my chance of getting cancer over 10 years is as great as being struck by lightning 10 times in a row. Its funny how they take a study that proves marijuana is as harmless as drinking water and put a dramatic spin on it. Why don’t they talk about how the chlorine in our tap water has been proven to cause cancer over many years of exposure. Give me a break!

    4. RevRayGreen says:

      google “tight underwear and testicular cancer” tight-whitey’s more of a risk.

    5. This is interesting do to the fact that we have higher than normal cancer rates here in washington and it is not Cannibus, But things like Asarco and the other founderys that lined the waterfront along with the other major industery over the last 100+ years putting out massive amouts of toxic waste into the air and water here in washington state there is no way that you could do a study here in these three countys and not haveit be tained be this. It is a constant public service alert to never play or dig in the dirt here do ot lead and arsnic that these industry giants left for us and are kids!

    6. I am glad that NORML commented on this. The timing of this ‘study’ with the Phelp’s scandal that shouldn’t even be an issue, seems too good to be true.

      As does this study. I read 3 or 4 different versions of it, and there were drastic differences to each. I seem to have debunked the study as easily as your article.

      Most of the news articles on the studies slipped up themselves. They admitted that there hasn’t been enough research done. They also said that the cancer was very rare. The study said that they also didn’t take into consideration alcohol and tobacco use. Also, I was confused whether it was marijuana itself, or the smoke from marijuana smoking that made them see the link. None of the articles I read agreed on which one it was. Either way, they never discussed which chemical(s) it was that posed the supposed risk. Most of the articles used key words like “may” “might”. ALL red flags (IMHO). As someone already mentioned, there are MILLIONS of regular/past users–why are we not seeing more testicular cancer?

      What better way to threaten the growing cannabis reform movement than to try and attack the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, and also to make people fear their sexual well-being by the use of said cannabis. If you ask me (as I’m sure you all will agree) that’s a very cheap tactic.

    7. – – – Saw this ‘news-story’ during a local broadcast today, run,(coincidentally), right before another story about how taking vitamins don’t help make one healthier, nor help reduce the incidence of cancer, (A study conducted on a certain demographic of women, whom supposedly had the same rates of cancer, whether they took multi-vitamins or not). I wonder who funds these
      studies / news-releases?

    8. Ray DiPasquale says:

      Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
      George Orwell

    9. Jake says:

      First off I don’t believe this research. Secondly, I’d give a nut to be able to smoke in peace for the rest of my life.

    10. […] talks about it. Check out the link, saw the article earlier. Should clear things up a little bit. http://blog.norml.org/2009/02/10/med…k-nothing-new/ […]