Cocaine? Good For You?
Study says maybe -- at least when it comes to preventing testicular cancer.
While it's far from the truth for this generation, there was a time when cocaine actually served a good purpose. Doctors used it to numb the pain of dental procedures. People used it to cure flatulence and whiten their teeth. Before Red Bull gave you wings, cocaine was the go-to substance during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to keep people up all night doing work.
The History Channel film "History of Cocaine" documents how employers would even provide laborers with cocaine to give them the energy to work longer hours. But by the early 1900s, newspapers had begun reporting on cocaine's ill effects. Soon after, cocaine was relegated to being a prescription-only drug before being banned altogether.
Now, a little more than a century after it was declared illegal, cocaine is back in the news for something good: preventing testicular cancer.
A study conducted at the University of Southern California found that men with a history of using cocaine had a reduced risk of getting testicular cancer. Researchers suspect that the drug may kill sperm-producing germ cells tied to cancer growth. But even the study's authors suspect that the health risks and legal liabilities associated with cocaine use may outweigh any benefits of the drug.
"'Prevention' would come at a high price," said Victoria Cortessis, one of the authors of the study.
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in young men ages 15 to 45 years. The study's findings came after researchers determined that marijuana could be linked to developing testicular cancer. Men with a history of smoking weed also were twice as likely to have subtypes of testicular cancer, the study showed.
Men who used cocaine, on the other hand, were found to have a reduced risk of developing the cancer. But they also had fertility issues.
"Although germ cells can not develop cancer if they are first destroyed, fertility would also be impaired," reported Cortessis, indicating additional study was needed. "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."