Health warning: Smoking can seriously shrink your manhood

By John Illman, Medical Correspondent
Copyright 1998 Guardian (UK)
July 26, 1998

Are you ready for the cigarette health warning that could turn millions of men into non-smokers overnight? Smoking will reduce the size of your penis.

This alarming finding has emerged from a study undertaken at Boston University School of Medicine. Two hundred men submitted their erect organs to the scrutiny of the ruler and the answer came back: If you smoke, you are likely to have a shorter erect penis.

Get ready, then, smokers, with those 'size isn't important' justifications. But surely, millions of shocked male smokers will insist, the effects are minimal? Nothing to speak of between close friends, so to speak? Apparently no such comforting conclusions can be drawn.

In keeping with the sensitivity of his sex, Dr Pedram Salimpour, one of the researchers, is not talking millimetres - or at least he was not yesterday when all he would say is that the study was 'the biggest ever' of its kind.

But the secret will soon be out. He emphasised that the findings were 'statistically significant' and that the full extent of the damage would be revealed to the International Society of Impotence Research in Amsterdam next month.

The tobacco industry may insist that this pioneering research does not stand up, but the scientific facts are against it.

The effects of smoking on the penis is much the same as that on the heart. It damages blood vessels, inhibiting blood flow. In turn, this effects elastin, the magical substance which hold the key to what is widely regarded as the ultimate measure of manhood - the ability to have an erection.

Elastin, Salimpour explained, is like a rubber band that you stretch. This is what your penis does - it stretches in response to blood flow. Smoking damages its ability to do that, and so what you finish up with is a structure that will no longer stretch. What the researchers have yet to establish is how long smoking takes to damage a man's erectile power.

This will require further studies, said Salimpour, but it seems the penis may be even more susceptible to smoking-induced damage than the heart.

He explained: 'The blood vessels in the penis are much smaller - one millimetre in diameter compared with 1.5mm in the heart.'

Smoking men might be better off asking themselves that, if smoking is affecting the size of their penises, what is it doing to their hearts? Impotence is also now emerging as a possible early warning of heart disease.

The vast majority of men have a penis between five and seven inches long when erect. Most would shudder at the idea of losing as much as a centimetre and will not be reassured by the claim that penis size is no more a measure of manhood, sexual capacity or the ability to please a partner than is the size of a man's foot.

And all you non-smokers. This is no time for premature elation. There is bound to be a further study on the effects of passive smoking.

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