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SMOKERS 50% MORE LIKELY TO SUFFER IMPOTENCE

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Smokers are 50 percent more likely to suffer from impotence than nonsmokers, the government says.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate may be even slightly higher, because their study was based on men willing to acknowledge the sexual disorder."It's more bad news for smokers," said Dr. David Mannino of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health.

Researchers estimate that up to 10 million U.S. men are impotent and that half of those cases are caused by such factors as diet, diabetes, aging, alcohol and medication. Smoking had long been suspected.

The study was based on a survey of 4,462 U.S. Army Vietnam veterans who were between the ages of 31 and 49 in 1985-86. Of that number, 1,162 said they never smoked; 1,292 said they were former smokers; and 2,008 said they smoked.

Among nonsmokers, 2.2 percent said they suffered persistent impotence, compared to 2 percent of former smokers and 3.7 percent of current smokers. Researchers said the difference in the rate of impotence reported by nonsmokers and former smokers was statistically insignificant.