The effect of tetrahydrocannabinol on testosterone among men in the United States: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

World J Urol. 2020 Feb 17. doi: 10.1007/s00345-020-03110-5. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: To determine the association between tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) use and testosterone (T) levels among men in the United States.

Methods: Using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from the years 2011-2016, we identified all men 18 years and older who answered the substance use questionnaire and underwent laboratory testing for T. Regular THC users were defined as those who use THC at least one time per month, every month for at least 1 year. Multivariable linear regressions controlling for confounders were then used to determine the relationship between THC use and T levels.

Results: Among the 5146 men who met inclusion, 3027 endorsed using THC at least once in their life (ever-user). Nearly half of the THC ever-users (49.3%) were considered regular THC users. Multivariate analysis controlling for age, comorbidities, tobacco use, alcohol use, body mass index (BMI), exercise level, and race revealed a small but statistically significant increase in T among regular THC users at any measured level of use, compared to non-regular THC users (non-users). This increase was characterized by an inverse U-shaped trend with Regular THC users using two-three times per month demonstrating the greatest increase in T (+ 66.77 ng/dL) over non-users.

Conclusion: THC use is associated with small increases in testosterone. This increase in T appears to decline as THC use increases, but nevertheless, T is still higher with any amount of regular use when compared to T in non-users. Prospective work is needed to validate the observed increase and to better elucidate the mechanism of impact THC use has on T levels.

Keywords: Marijuana; Testosterone; Tetrahydrocannabinol.