Breaking News in Urology

Abstracted from:
"60 Minutes", CBS Television,
November 8, 1998 (Mike Wallace) and
Wall Street Journal, November 9, 1998
(S.L. Hwang and N. Cuming-Bruce)

"60 Minutes" Segment
Highlights Cigarette Smoking
as Impotency Risk Factor

"Cigarette smoking causes sexual impotency," reads the now-mandatory warning label on all packs of cigarettes sold in Thailand. This and other aspects of a possible smoking-impotency link were the focus of both a "60 Minutes" segment by Mike Wallace on Nov. 8 and an article the next day in The Wall Street Journal. Thus, a concept---previously held only by urologists treating impotent men and academics studying this subject---has made its way into homes and offices across the land.

Public health groups have seized on this possible link to advance the anti-smoking message to young people. For example, the State of California is now in the midst of a $21 million TV commercial series featuring a young man's efforts at flirtation that fail when his cigarette goes limp. "Cigarettes," says the tagline. "Still think they're sexy?"

For decades, doctors have believed smoking can harm a man's sexual function because it constricts blood vessels, compromising blood flow. Over the years, studies have strengthened those beliefs, most recently in 1994, when a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology surveyed Vietnam veterans and found that while 2.2% of nonsmokers suffered persistent impotence, 3.7% of current smokers did. "Smoking is a significant cause of impotence, there's no question about that," said a spokesman for Pfizer, who adds that 75% of the men in Viagra's clinical trials were current or former smokers.

According to the WSJ, Harris M. Nagler, chairman of the urology department at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, says he has been advising impotent patients to quit smoking since the early 1980s -- with little success. "The younger ones who are just beginning to have problems tend to be more inclined to stop, but I haven't been impressed by the numbers who have walked away from smoking because of it," he says. "This is truly an addiction."

USRF has reproduced the abstracts of three recent scientific inquiries into the possible relationship of smoking and male erectile dysfunction.

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