A new study finds that boys and men aged 20 to 30 are much more likely to experience erectile dysfunction due to vaping than in other ways, and those who use e-cigarettes also increase their risk of getting testicular cancer.
E-cigarettes are the most popular tobacco product in the United States. The devices are intended to be inhaled like traditional cigarettes, only without the smoke. They deliver nicotine and flavoring through the end of the battery, much like how tobacco products have for decades. The devices have gotten more and more popular, especially among men of college age.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to ban e-cigarettes and e-liquids containing nicotine, nicotine-containing vaping liquid and fruit-flavored e-liquid combinations as soon as next year. But a new report has found that the presence of those ingredients can also increase the risk of cancer. A look at data from a meta-analysis of more than 1,200 men who were followed for 10 years shows that vaping doubled the risk of erectile dysfunction. Those risks were even higher for those who used e-cigarettes first rather than traditional cigarettes.
Both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is a carcinogen that can also cause hardening of the arteries, increased heart rate and breathing. It can also speed up aging of the skin. Researchers concluded in the report, published Thursday in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, that the increased risks from vaping were equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day. In smokers, especially those who have not smoked in years, nicotine damages cartilage and has been linked to bone cancer, the report said. And since it is unclear whether vaping is safer than smoking, the increased risk is relevant to non-smokers who are concerned about their health, researchers said.
The authors of the report concluded that while other studies have also shown a significant increase in risk for tobacco use among men aged 20 to 30, the potential harm from vaping has not been adequately evaluated. The authors drew on data from 1,274 men, aged 20 to 34, and 1,604 men, aged 20 to 30, who were tracked for five years in the U.S. The study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, used nationally representative data from a 2010 survey.
During the follow-up period, 12 of the 1,643 men who said they used e-cigarettes died. The authors found that e-cigarette use alone was linked to a 10.2 percent increased risk of erectile dysfunction, with the effect strongest among men in the 20 to 30 age group.
“Cancers are incredibly common,” Dr. Sara Johnson, the lead author of the study and a staff physician at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a statement. “The fact that vaping increased risk of cancer in young adults is one of the strongest mechanisms for reconsidering whether the inhalation of a toxic substance such as nicotine should be prohibited on a national scale.”
Dr. W. Steve Mathers, an expert in clinical pharmacology and community medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said that the report is not surprising, given the data that has been collected.
“This is probably because there are some vape-sized particles of nicotine and vapor in the vapors,” Mathers said. Nicotine affects the heart as well as the vascular system, he added. He also cautioned that because lung cancer is often not detected until years after smoking cessation, the increase in cancer risk may have been worse among those who had not used tobacco.
The new study used a systematic review, which is a broad and detailed analysis of existing data. An other meta-analysis also showed a strong association between smoking tobacco and cancer. And a long study showed that regular cigarette smoking led to an increased risk of testicular cancer.
To Johnson, any way of reducing exposure to toxins is a good idea. “Especially when you are young.”