WEDNESDAY, Dec. 1, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Vaping can be severe for the lungs, but new research warns of another possible danger for men: it could more than double the risk of erectile dysfunction.
After tracking the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) among nearly 25,000 men aged 20 and older, the researchers found that even vapers with no history of heart disease or other health problems, usually related to impotence, found that their risk has more than doubled.
The finding suggests that while e-cigarettes may offer some consumers a useful way to quit smoking, there are potential drawbacks.
“Any tobacco or nicotine product is not risk-free, especially for those who are considering using it,” warns study lead author Dr. Omar El Shahawi. He is an assistant professor at Grossman School of Medicine at New York University.
For example, “there is plenty of evidence that constant exposure to high levels of nicotine [in traditional tobacco products] may impair normal erectile function, “said El Shahawi.[And] some e-cigarettes have very high concentrations of nicotine, especially when newer e-cigarettes are used, which have a high supply of nicotine. This led us to explore the possible link between e-cigarette use and erectile dysfunction. “
To study the risk of ED and e-cigarettes, researchers sifted data on male vapers. The team focused on two groups of patients, two-thirds of whom were white. The first included nearly 14,000 men aged 20 and over, some of whom had a history of heart disease. The second group included approximately 11,000 men between the ages of 20 and 65, none of whom had a previous diagnosis of heart disease.
About half of the men in the larger group are ex-smokers. About one-fifth report current cigarette use, while 14% say they use other types of tobacco.
Nearly 5% of those in the larger first group say they use to some degree, and 2% say they do so on a daily basis. In the group with a healthy heart, 5.6% of men say they have used it from time to time, and 2.5% say they do it every day. And some of the vapers in both groups said they had never smoked traditional cigarettes.
Erectile dysfunction is reported as a problem among 20.7% of men in the larger group and more than 10% of men in the healthy heart group.
After all, vaping in both groups was associated with more than twice the risk of ED compared to those who said they had never used it.
Noting that traditional cigarettes have long been associated with a higher risk of impotence, El Shahawi said his team expects some degree of higher risk among vapers.
However, “it is surprising that the association was consistent in all the assessments we made, even when we excluded people with previous heart disease,” he added.
But El Shahawi said more research was needed to find out exactly why.
“At the moment, we just don’t know enough … whether it’s just nicotine in e-cigarettes, or [whether] “There may be other components in the e-fluid that could potentially affect erectile function,” he said.
He, meanwhile, advised those considering using vaping to refrain.
“In general, e-cigarettes are probably less harmful than smoking cigarettes,” said El Shahawi. “But e-cigarettes should be used to reduce overall nicotine use,” instead of being accepted as a new habit with its own set of risks.
In fact, “it is not clear whether e-cigarettes are safer or a step forward than traditional cigarettes,” warned Patricia Folan, director of the Northwell Tobacco Control Center in Great Neck, New York.
“Although e-cigarette manufacturers claim that the products are safe and effective in helping traditional / flammable smokers quit, the study did not show this,” said Folan, who was not involved in the new study.
“Evidence suggests that e-cigarettes can exacerbate asthma, serious respiratory illnesses, damage cardiovascular health and start nicotine / tobacco products by young people who are more likely to never smoke,” she said.
As for the risk of impotence, Folan said that “it makes sense that ED can be a side effect, as there are studies showing harm to cardiovascular health from vape products.”
The study was published on December 1 in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
There is more information about e-cigarettes at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.
SOURCES: Omar El Shahawy, MD, MPH, PhD, Assistant, Section for Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs, Department of Public Health, Grossman University School of Medicine, New York; Patricia Folan, DNP, Director, Northwell Health Center for Tobacco Control, Great Neck, NY; American Journal of Preventive Medicine, December 1, 2021