The use of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery devices (ENDS) may increase the risk of erectile dysfunction, suggests a report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Tobacco use is a known risk factor for erectile dysfunction, wrote Omar El-Shahawy, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., of New York University Grossman School of Medicine and colleagues. While ENDS are perceived to be less harmful than cigarettes, “many of the newer ENDS devices, coupled with currently available high-nicotine e-liquid concentrations, can effectively deliver higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes,” the researchers noted. “This study highlights a novel finding that ENDS use could have serious implications on men’s sexual health.”
El-Shahawy and colleagues analyzed data collected from December 2016 to January 2018 as part of the Population Assessment of Tobacco or Health (PATH) study—a national longitudinal study of tobacco use and how it affects the health of people in the United States. The researchers specifically focused on male participants 20 years and older who responded to questions about erectile dysfunction; their use of ENDS; current or past history of smoking; and previous diagnoses of diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, or cardiovascular disease (congestive heart failure, stroke, myocardial infarction, or other heart condition).
The researchers analyzed two samples for the study: (1) the full sample of nearly 14,000 men and (2) a restricted sample of over 11,000 men aged 20 to 65 who had no history of cardiovascular disease. (Men older than 65 years and those reporting previous history of cardiovascular disease were excluded from the second sample because there is a high prevalence of erectile dysfunction in these groups, the authors noted.)
The prevalence of erectile dysfunction in the samples ranged from 10.2% in the 20- to 65-year-olds with no history of cardiovascular disease to 20.7% in the full sample. Current ENDS use was 5.6% among the restricted sample, with 2.5% reporting current daily use, and 4.8% among the full sample, with 2.1% reporting current daily ENDS use. Men in both samples who currently used ENDS daily were more than twice as likely to report having erectile dysfunction than those who had never used ENDS.
“While ENDS remain under evaluation for harm reduction and smoking-cessation potential, ENDS users should be informed about the possible association between ENDS use and erectile dysfunction,” El-Shahawy and colleagues concluded.
For related information, see the Psychiatric News articles “Vaping-Related Illnesses, Deaths Continue to Climb” and “Surgeon General on Smoking: Most Want to Quit.”
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