Unknown to many, the most preventable cause of death in the United States is smoking. The average male smoker will die before reaching the age of 62, the early retirement age to be eligible to collect social security. The mortality rate of smokers who consume two or more packs of cigarettes daily is 12 to 25 times greater than nonsmokers. Smoking causes approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths, and is associated with 87 percent of lung cancers. Smoking also contributes to cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, pancreas, uterus, cervix, kidney, and bladder. These are just some of the harmful effects of excessive, long-term smoking. Despite the health risks, millions of people still buy cigarettes to satisfy their nicotine cravings.

According to Denver urologist Lawrence Karsh, M.D., smoking is one of the worst things a young man can do to his body. We already know about smoking’s link to lung cancer and heart disease. But smoking, if done over the course of many years, can also damage and block the blood vessels inside the penis, resulting in a failure to sustain a normal erection. In most cases, the damage won’t be seen until it’s too late.

A new study confirmed that men who smoke have greater risk of sexual impotence. Sexual impotence is the consistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance. In a study of almost 5,000 Chinese men aged 35-74 who were free of blood vessel disease and who reported that they had been sexually active within the last 6 months, the researchers found a significant link between the number of cigarettes smoked and the likelihood of sexual impotence. Researchers from Tulane University School of Public Health in New Orleans have found that the association between cigarette smoking and sexual impotence had already been established in earlier studies. However, most of those studies were conducted in patients with hypertension or high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Based on the research, men who smoked had a 41 percent greater risk of sexual impotence than men who did not. Also, there was a clear “dose response” relationship, meaning that the more men smoking, the higher their risk of sexual impotence. Compared with non-smokers, men who smoked up to 10 cigarettes a day had a 27 percent greater chance of sexual impotence, and those who smoked 11-20 sticks a day had a 45 percent greater chance of sexual impotence, while those who smoked more than 20 had a 65 percent chance of suffering from sexual impotence.

The researchers found that even when cigarette smokers quit, their risk of developing sexual impotence did not decrease. The risk of sexual impotence was about the same for former cigarette smokers as for current cigarette smokers. According to study released by Tulane University, preventing smoking should entail a strong message for young men that gets their attention. Such a message should include clear information regarding the the links between smoking and sexual impotence — a problem that may be encountered by even healthy individuals. But another clear and simple message about smoking should be — don’t even start.

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