The research situation is getting kind of insane, and not just pertaining to the cannabis industry. So long as the general population takes every headline to mean something, then it’s easy to pull opinions in almost any direction, by simply saying something like ‘new research shows…’ This most recent example is a laughable excuse for a piece of ‘research’, and highlights the insanity of what’s going on. No, no study just showed any links between erectile dysfunction and vaping, but please, look into the actual research yourself if the headline concerns you.
If you’re concerned about erectile dysfunction and vaping, this study is probably not the place to look for info. On the bright side, weed is more associated with helping with erectile dysfunction, than causing it. In fact, vaping is right now the much safer way of ingesting cannabis or nicotine, and interested vapers can try a bunch of new cannabinoid products like delta-8 THC, THCV, and HHC, even outside of dispensaries. We’ve got great deals to get you through the holiday season, so browse our listings to find your perfect product.
The study claiming links between erectile dysfunction and vaping
The study, entitled: Association of E-Cigarettes With Erectile Dysfunction: The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, was published in November 2021 in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. According to the study authors: “Smoking is independently associated with erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. Given existing similarities in the constituents of e-cigarettes or ENDS and cigarettes, this study examines the association between ENDS use and erectile dysfunction.”
The study used information collected from research unrelated to this venture. The data was taken from Wave 4 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study from the years of 2016-2018. The study investigators specifically took respondents who had mentioned issues with erectile dysfunction, who were 20 years of age or more. Then they used multivariable logistic regression models, which are simply different ways of comparing information to try to find relationships between a dependent variable and different independent variables.
Within this, the investigators looked at ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) use within the full sample, as well as restricting that sample to men 20-65 who specifically had no previous diagnosis for cardiac issues. Multiple risk factors were adjusted for, according to the researchers.
In their results, the researchers found that of the full sample, 20.7% had erectile dysfunction, and of the restricted sample, 10.2% did. Use of ENDS in the full sample was 4.8%, and in the restricted sample, 5.6%. In terms of daily ENDS use, the full sample showed 2.1%, and the restricted sample showed 2.5%. According to the investigators, ENDS users were more likely to report erectile dysfunction than those who never vaped in either the full or restricted samples.
They found that in the full sample, that data points indicated those aged 65 and over who had cardiovascular issues, were more likely to have erectile dysfunction. In both categories, physical exercise was associated with lower rates of erectile dysfunction. The study investigators then concluded that all this means that erectile dysfunction is related to vaping.
Massive issues with study claiming links between erectile dysfunction and vaping
I could have called this section, ‘why this study is completely bogus’, or ‘why this study is completely useless’. Either way, that’s the gist of it. This is literally one of the most useless pieces of published ‘research’ out there, and the word ‘research’ here is insulting to actual research that goes on. No real research went on here.
First and foremost, the information collected for this ridiculous effort, was not collected for the purpose of investigating erectile dysfunction and vaping, which means the data points being evaluated are non-specific at best, and will inherently not cover all information that must be looked at in order to make such a designation. The people who responded to the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study, for example, were not thinking their data would be used for a study on erectile dysfunction.
The information was indeed collected for the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study. This study would likely have information useful for an erectile dysfunction study, but as that is not its purpose at all, it would only have a few helpful points. Anything else would have to be collected from respondents in a more specific way, and this was not done.
I’m not sure there’s a better way of exemplifying lazy researchers who want to get published, then putting out a useless piece of $%!# like this. You see, a real research study can take years to do. It has to be designed, relevant participants need to be found, something needs to be tested. And then all the data has to be calculated. This is very time-consuming, but will net results directly related to the investigation purpose, as ancillary research points on unrelated topics don’t have to be involved, and the study can fully focus on all aspects related to the question, whereby everything can be accounted for that’s necessary.
In the case of what’s going on here, and I see it all the time now, researchers took existing data sets from unrelated investigations, and then put the data into computers that played around with numbers until something that looked relevant showed through. This could have been done in a matter of minutes, or even seconds. The idea that this information is relevant, useful, or reliable is silly at best, and before any real conclusion could be drawn (like the study authors did) it would require backing from actual research studies in the model I just explained. This is an excellent example of the lack of research integrity that exists in the medical research fields of today, especially when dealing with controversial topics.
Other issues with this catastrophic piece of ‘research’
Though the study investigators like to say they controlled for different things, the reality is they could only control for what they had data points for, as no respondent was contacted specifically for this study. So if relevant data points like access to secondhand smoke, and actual smoking habits prior to vaping, aren’t accounted for, then how can we possibly know what the cause of anything is? The idea of smoking outside of vaping is incredibly important here. This is a population of people taking in nicotine, and as vaping is new, this implies nearly all would have been cigarette smokers at some point, and cigarette smoking is associated with erectile dysfunction.
The study works to draw the conclusion that vaping therefore affects circulation in the same way that smoking does, and this is laughable at best, and already understood to be wrong. Vaping might not be the safest thing ever, but it’s fundamentally not the same as smoke inhalation.
There’s a lot of obvious information here that’s being drawn in funny ways. Like, we already know that erectile dysfunction can have a lot of reasons behind it, but heart and circulation issues are big, and that’s why exercise would improve symptoms. It’s also why older people with cardiac issues would show more cases. This is not new information. Simply looking at ages and heart issues says way more about erectile dysfunction than vaping does in this context.
We don’t know why people are vaping, or when they started. If a person smoked for 30 years and started vaping a year before, why would any erectile dysfunction be assumed to be related to the vaping and not the 30 years of smoking damage? It’s highly likely that the vaping population used, represented a lot of people trying to quit cigarettes, people who might have been using them for quite some time. It could also be that the vapers are representative of people trying to clean up life in other ways, who are trying to stave off or minimize health issues that came from other avenues, and which could be confused for vaping.
Truth is, we know almost nothing, and all the results point to aging and cardiovascular issues as the main culprits. In fact, if any conclusion were to be drawn off the information presented, its that people 65 and older, especially with cardiovascular issues, are more likely to have erectile dysfunction. Considering these are all tobacco users, many being older, making the connection that smoking itself it a massive part of this is a lot smarter than anything the study researchers came out with.
Why this happens
The research landscape is starting to feel closed in and inbred. Rather than making actual pieces of new research, those who want a title published and a headline put out quickly, resort to cheap imitations in the form of taking unrelated data points and working them around until something that looks like a connection shows up. Even if the appearance of that connection can be easily explained as unrelated, or if the issue is very obviously related to other factors. And then a headline blares as if something useful was found. It’s research at its ultimate worst, and a sad state of affairs for anyone who wants decent information.
This ‘study’ (I don’t even like using that term here) is nearly identical in how it was done to something like this study which recently came out claiming that cannabis effects sleep making users sleep too much or too little. Only, that research too was based on unrelated data points in a study where no respondent was specifically questioned about the subject being investigated. Imagine that. Not one respondent actually questioned on the subject being investigated, and no questions specifically designed for the subject being investigated, yet somehow, all these conclusions have been drawn. This sleep evaluation literally taught us nothing new, but ended with headlines about how weed makes a person sleep badly.
Yet another atrocity, is this study about how cannabis can increase the risk of a heart attack, which also took unrelated data points to try to make some connection that never existed. In fact, the only connection that this study realistically made? That smoke inhalation increases heart attack risk, which we already know. The study investigators in this evaluation literally tried to pass off a study linking cannabis to heart attacks, without taking into account smoke inhalation, even though all cannabis users were smoking it. Research integrity? Not a bit here!
The whole idea of research is to help us understand the world around us, to make informed decisions, protect ourselves, and for governments to set policy for populations. So, when the research world becomes a mess of people looking to grab headlines and nothing else, the idea of it is essentially thrown by the wayside. This study attempting to show links between erectile dysfunction and vaping, is just another in an increasingly long line of useless information being put out, that does more to confuse, nothing to help, and which is a general disgrace to the idea of science and research integrity.
Having said all this, I would never go ahead and make a statement that there can’t be any existing links between erectile dysfunction and vaping (because I’m not as silly as these researchers). But if there are, if there really are, they certainly weren’t established here.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.