By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

Men ages 20 to 65 years with no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) but who are using e-cigarettes might be more likely to report erectile dysfunction compared to those who have never used the devices.

Investigators from Johns Hopkins and the New York University Grossman School of Medicine examined data gathered from 2016 to 2018 as part of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study — specifically, men age 20 years and older and men age 20 to 65 years with no prior diagnosis of CVD. All participants had answered questions about erectile dysfunction and e-cigarette use (former or current users; use was either classified as occasional or daily). Among those age 20 years and older, e-cigarette use was 4.8% and 5.6% for those age 20 to 65 years with no CVD. Daily e-cigarette use was 2.1% vs. 2.5%, respectively.

In both groups, those who were current daily users of e-cigarettes were more likely to report erectile dysfunction compared to those who were considered never-users (2.24 times more likely for men age 20 years and older vs. 2.41 times more likely in men age 20 to 65 years with no CVD). Researchers noted a similar likelihood among those considered current occasional users, although not to the same degree.

Generally, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the authors noted a person older than age 65 years with a history of cardiovascular disease was more likely to report erectile dysfunction. But more notably, they also found those who reported engaging in no physical activity at all were much more likely to report erectile dysfunction than those who reported engaging in physical activity at any weekly frequency.

“The use of [e-cigarettes] seems to be associated with erectile dysfunction independent of age, cardiovascular disease, and other risk factors,” the authors concluded. “While [e-cigarettes] remain under evaluation for harm reduction and smoking-cessation potential, [e-cigarette] users should be informed about the possible association between [e-cigarette] use and erectile dysfunction.”

There may have been a time when e-cigarettes were considered a safe alternative to old-fashioned cigarettes, but evidence to the contrary is mounting. Scientists are learning how these products can affect lung health specifically and even how e-cigarettes can disrupt the oral microbiome.