Men's Health Week 2012 (11-17th June) looks at heart health.
Heart disease is the single biggest killer of men. Three times as many men as women die from heart disease before their 75th birthday. Smoking is a leading cause of heart disease. Find out more at:
Yolo: a new campaign for Men's Health Week
Smoking can cause cancer, respiratory problems and heart disease. There are other physical issues connected with smoking that particularly affect men.
Smoking and Impotence
Smoking can be a major cause of impotence. Figures show smoking is responsible for impotence in over 100 thousand men in the UK aged between 30 and 49. And a new report for the Men’s Health Forum highlights that erection problems are probably the most important early warning sign for heart disease.
Basically this is because smoking causes fatty deposits to build up inside the blood vessels, which restrict the flow of blood to the penis. Smoking can also affect the quality (and quantity) of sperm and so can be a cause of infertility.
The good news is that on stopping smoking the fat that restricts the blood flow can start to break down again and often the impotence problem goes. Stopping smoking also reduces the risk of heart disease.
Smoking reduces physical endurance
Your endurance for physical activity is seriously reduced if you smoke - the carbon monoxide in smoke sticks to the red blood cells in place of oxygen, which lowers the amount of oxygen available to the muscles and reduces endurance. So smokers get exhausted more quickly and have slower reactions and poorer vision. One study showed that on average a 20-year old smoker has a fitness level of a non-smoker aged about 35.
On giving up smoking:
- Breathing becomes easier within 72 hours
- Circulation improves over 2 -12 weeks
- Lung efficiency improves by up to 5-10 per cent within 3-9 months
More on the health benefits of giving up
Smoking and back pain
Studies have also linked smoking with an increased risk of lower back pain and spinal injury. Smoking increases the risk of musculoskeletal injury and also the risk of spinal disc problems.
See for example: Molecular basis of intervertebral disc degeneration; Walker and Anderson in The Spine Journal 4 (2004).
A big issue for many men can be that drinking alcohol and being round smokers can weaken the resolve to stay quit, so for the first couple of weeks of stopping smoking, giving the pub a miss might be the answer. But if you talk to a trained stop smoking adviser they can help you prepare to stop smoking and have a look at what your own risk situations might be. For smokers who use cannabis with tobacco, check knowcannabis.org.uk
Smoking and being a dad
And for dads - even if you're not ready to give up smoking - you will be protecting the health of those around you by not exposing them to secondhand smoke. If you make your home and car smokefree, you will reduce the chances of your children suffering from asthma or glue ear and other serious childhood illnesses - so even if you're not ready to give up smoking yet, why not take the first step by protecting your family from it? One idea could be to make a comfortable outdoor smoking area to encourage visitors not to smoke in the house.
More on the dangers of secondhand smoke
Thinking of stopping smoking?
Are you ready to quit? The good news is that giving up smoking is easier than ever.
When you go smokefree, you are up to four times more likely to succeed if you use NHS support and stop smoking medicines such as patches or gum to manage your cravings.
A whole range of nicotine replacement products are available on prescription as well as over the counter - they don't contain toxic chemicals or cause cancer and they double your chances of successfully becoming a non-smoker. Using these products can double your chances of successfully quitting smoking. More on medication
We have trained stop smoking advisers at every GP surgery in Oxfordshire. Many employers give time off for people to see the stop smoking adviser; Oxfordshire Smoking Advice Service also has a workplaces specialist who can visit major workplaces to help people who can't get away from work easily. See smokefree businesses for further information. If anyone's interested in us coming to their workplace, please contact our Smokefree Workplaces Specialist.
There's also support online - try the website at smokefree.nhs.uk where you can talk with an adviser online or sign up for an advice pack. Or give up with a mate to keep each other on track. Football fans can quit for their team at Smokefree United