Young men who smoke pot may be putting their manhoods in the line of fire, according to new research from the University of Southern California. The study, published in the journal CANCER, links marijuana to non-seminoma tumors—a particularly dangerous form of testicular cancer—in males between their early teens and early thirties. "The group that is at risk for developing these tumors is overwhelmingly young men. They should be looking and paying attention to changes in their testicles anyway," says Victoria Cortessis, one of the study's authors and an assistant professor at USC's Keck School of Medicine. Cortessis and her colleagues asked 163 young men with testicular cancer, and 292 healthy men, about their drug use. They found those who smoked pot had double the risk of developing testicular tumors—and the pot-smokers' tumors tended to grow faster and be more difficult to treat. Although the exact reason for this correlation is yet unknown, in animal studies, pot smoke and the chemical THC have been known to reduce testosterone, which regulates testes development and function. "It may be that marijuana use disrupts this regulation in a way that makes the testes much more vulnerable to cancer," says Coressis.
It's not the first time this link has been flagged. "We now have three studies connecting marijuana use to testicular cancer, and no studies that contradict them," says Stephen Schwartz, an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle who authored a 2009 study yielding similar results. "I think we should start taking notice." According to the National Cancer Institute, over 8,500 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2012—with 360 estimated fatalities. However, those with non-seminoma tumors have a much higher fatality rate, so male pot-smokers—especially young ones—might be advised to keep an eye on their junk.
More than half of the drivers killed in car accidents in the US have alcohol or drugs in their system when they crash, and about one in five have been using two or more drugs, according to a new study published in the Addiction journal. Researchers analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on 20,150 drivers killed accidents from 2005-2009, finding that men and night-time drivers were the most likely to have booze or drugs show up in toxicology tests afterwards: 60% of men killed were under the influence, compared with under 50% of the women. Alcohol was found most often, followed by marijuana and stimulants. However, the records didn't have enough data to tell to what extent the drivers were actually impaired, or the extent to which prescription drugs were to blame, so more research will be needed. "With alcohol, the amount of alcohol is more or less directly related to the level of behavior impairment,” says Robert Voas, who studies alcohol and highway safety at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, but wasn't part of the study. “The relationship of a drug in the body to the behavior of the driver is less direct and clear."
Indie pop singer and GQ's "Woman of the Year" Lana Del Rey has revealed that she struggled with substance abuse in her teens, and these "wilderness years" influenced her recent album, Born to Die. “I was a big drinker at the time,” she tells GQ. “I would drink every day. I would drink alone…I knew it was a problem when I liked it more than I liked doing anything else." Her worried parents sent her to boarding school in hopes it would help her kick the habit—at just 14 years old. "At first it's fine and you think you have a dark side—it's exciting—and then you realize the dark side wins every time if you decide to indulge in it. It’s also a completely different way of living when you know that…a different species of person. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me.” Things seem to be on the up for the 26-year-old singer-songwriter, who appeared on Saturday Night Live in January, and is now working on her third album. Del Rey first opened up publicly about her addictions earlier this year on YouTube: when one commenter expressed thanks for her "Carmen" video, about a teenage meth addict, the star responded, "I got clean too, so I know how it goes.”
Don't call the War on Drugs a "war" to outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon. "I don’t like the term 'war' because ultimately it is not about the drugs," he said in his most recent interview, at the APEC conference in Vladivostok this weekend. "What I would like is for Mexico to become a rule-of-law state where people feel safe. My priority is not to eradicate drugs, but to create a secure environment for our people and their families." Calderon, whose six-year term of office comes to an end in December—when he will be replaced by Enrique Pena Nieto—also made clear his view that the demand for drugs in the US has impeded Mexican economic growth. "The main reason for our drug trafficking problem is that the US is the main drug consumer in the world," he says. "This backfired on Mexico and many other countries. If the demand for drugs were to decrease in the US, we would indeed have fewer problems." Calderon says his administration has made progress in curbing the corruption of law enforcement agencies and re-establishing the credibility of governmental bodies. Still, he acknowledges that major problems remain: "Not only do criminal gangs smuggle drugs into the US, they also attempt to distribute them across Latin America. This leads to turf wars and breeds violence. In spite of this, last year saw a significant decline in violence and the number of murders. We are working on it, but there is still miles to go." Calderon's leadership has seen Mexico attempting to reduce its dependence on US assistance on this issue. His administration set up a large-scale database monitoring criminal activity that it shares with other Central American states, and a designated organization at a regional level is set to coordinate those efforts.
- Ryan: Medical Marijuana Should Be Up to The States [Star-Telegram]
- The FDA's New Cigarette Labels Go Up in Smoke [Wall Street Journal]
- Utah's Teen Smoking Rate Dips to Lowest Level [SF Gate]
- Financial Aid For Families of 80 Drug Addicts [The National]
- Thai Doctor: 'Sin Tax' a Boon to Thailand [Inquirer Global Nation]
- Underage One Direction Given Alcohol as a Gift [Newstalk ZB]
- Aspiring Rapper Tweets YOLO, Then Dies In Drunk Driving Car Accident [Vibe]
Drinking and drugging may seem "cool" thanks to movies like The Hangover, shows like Jersey Shore and good ol' fashioned peer pressure, but two teens are aiming to majorly amp up the appeal of sober living. Dominic Suazo and Feril Trevor Davis have seen how alcohol and drug use in the media can have a negative impact on young people—so they've founded a new clothing company called Party Sober to demonstrate that sobriety can be young, fun and hip. "People just glamorize that shit, but after going down that road and seeing how dark and scary addiction is we're trying to combat that message," Davis tells The Fix. "It's cool to live life and party sober and not need a drink or drug to be yourself." Davis says the strict "drugs-are-bad" messages transmitted through PSA's and DARE can be alienating to teens, who are more likely to listen to their own peers. "The edge we have is not being an authority figure, it's on a peer basis and not an authority figure telling them what to do," he explains. "I was told drugs were wrong and that didn't stop me. I didn't have anyone telling me what it's really like out there." Instead of demonizing drugs and alcohol, Party Sober emphasizes the coolness of clean living, in a similar vein to the Demi Lovato-approved fashion line Sober is Sexy; the clothes also provide a counterpoint to fashion statements like Urban Outfitters' recent alcohol-touting tees. Suazo and Davis plan to donate a portion of their sales to helping addicted youths get back on their feet again. Watch their full interview below: