Smokers more likely to be impotent

Men who smoke at least 20 cigarettes a day are much more likely to be impotent than non-smokers, an Australian study finds.

The researchers surveyed more than 8,000 Australian men aged 16 to 59 from all states, and more than a quarter of them are smokers.

Social scientist Julie Richters said that after adjusting for age, education, employment and use of medication for cardiovascular disease, people who smoked a packet of cigarettes a day or more had a 40 per cent increased risk of erectile dysfunction.

The more cigarettes a man smoked, the more at risk he became.

Dr Richters, of the University of NSW, said she was not surprised by the findings, given that scientists knew smoking caused circulatory disease, which was linked with erectile problems.

“This study just puts a number on it,” she said.

The researchers have called for health promotions to focus on impotency in anti-smoking campaigns, in a bid to encourage men to quit.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures show almost one in five men smoke, with the highest rate in the 20 to 29 age group.

“It's quite clear that young men in particular don't have a strong sense of risk in the future,” Dr Richters said.

“If you say to them you'll die a nasty death in your sixties if you keep on smoking, they just go: 'So what?'

“However, being a loser with a limp dick ought to sell. Health promotion people should take that message very seriously.”

Dr Richters said that although films tended to portray smoking as glamorous and naughty, in reality the habit contributed to impotency because it “messes up your tiny blood vessels”.

The research uses data from the continuing Australian Study of Health and Relationships.

It also found alcohol consumption of between one and four drinks a day significantly reduced the likelihood of having erectile dysfunction compared to non-drinkers.

Dr Richters said moderate drinkers were 64 per cent less likely to be impotent than teetotallers.

But she suggested this might have more to do with social factors than the alcohol.

The study findings were published recently in the journal, Tobacco Control.

Emed Comment:

What can we say? I think Dr Richters says it all here.