March 22, 2006 -- Erectile dysfunction may be more common among men who smoke cigarettes than among nonsmokers.
An Australian survey of more than 8,300 men aged 16-59 shows that erectile dysfunction was 40% more likely to occur among men who smoked more than 20 daily cigarettes, compared with nonsmokers. Also, erectile dysfunction was 24% more likely to occur among men who smoked up to 20 cigarettes per day, compared with nonsmokers.
The results, published in Tobacco Control, come from researchers including Christopher Millett of the primary care and social medicine department of London's Imperial College.
The survey, done by telephone, covered various health topics. More than a quarter of the men were current smokers (27%). Most smoked 20 or fewer daily cigarettes (about 21%).
Sexually active men were asked, "During the past year has there been a period of one month or more when you had trouble keeping an erection when you wanted to?" About 9% of the men said yes.
Smokers were more likely to report erectile dysfunction, which was most common among men who reported smoking 20 or more daily cigarettes.
The one-time survey didn't track any long-term patterns in smoking or erectile dysfunction.
Adjusting for other factors related to erectile dysfunction didn't change the results. However, erectile dysfunction was less commonly reported among men who were moderate drinkers and more common among those taking heart medications. Erectile dysfunction and heart disease share similar risk factors, the researchers note.
Millett and colleagues point out that they haven't proven that smoking causes erectile dysfunction. They call for more work on the topic.
Meanwhile, the researchers say their study shows "strong evidence" of a link between smoking and erectile dysfunction, which may motivate young men to quit smoking.