It’s been a pretty common assumption since the government started pumping out commercials of old guys speaking through holes in their throats that smoking cigarettes has some impacts on the body. But are there any potential benefits? As testosterone levels decrease year over year, many men are forced to wonder– does smoking lower testosterone?
A Norwegian study looked at the correlation between the important hormone and the smoking habits in men. Their findings showed some shocking results, admitting that while there are clearly some glaringly negative effects, smoking cigarettes may actual prove to drastically increase the amount of testosterone in a man’s body.
The abstract for the study reads as follows:
“Smoking is a risk factor of coronary heart disease (CHD), while the role of testosterone in the development of CHD is controversial. The reported effects of cigarette smoking on testosterone levels in men are conflicting, and smoking may be an important confounding factor when evaluating the relationship between testosterone levels and CHD. Thus, the objective of the present study was to examine the associations of smoking status and number of cigarettes smoked per day with total and free testosterone levels in a cross-sectional population-based study of 3427 men participating in the fifth Tromsø study. Total testosterone, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and sex hormone-binding globulin levels were measured with immunoassay while free testosterone levels were calculated. Waist circumference was also measured and two standardized questionnaires were completed, including smoking status and number of cigarettes smoked. The data were analysed with analysis of variance and covariance and multiple regression analysis. Smoking men had significantly higher levels of total and free testosterone compared with men who never smoked (p < 0.001 and <0.01 respectively). Both total and free testosterone levels increased significantly with increasing number of cigarettes smoked daily (p < 0.001). Smoking men had 15% higher total and 13% higher free testosterone levels compared with men who never smoked. Thus, smoking seems to be an important confounding factor when evaluating testosterone levels, and could possibly mask borderline hypogonadism.”
This doesn’t mean every man wanting to see some impressive gains at the gym ought to run off and buy a pack of Marborlo Reds. In fact, it should be concerning that this surge appears to directly contradict all the other health warnings linked with smoking cigarettes. I, personally, stopped smoking cigarettes years ago. Any potential benefit to be found in cigarettes can be found in a much higher quality product like cigars. Not only that, but cigars don’t include the extra addictive chemicals that a typical pack of smokes is known for.
While the results of the smoking study are interesting, exercise and diet remains the best alternative for testosterone production and improved physical health overall. Those who are set on experimenting with smoking should keep in mind that they may just leave the experience feeling empty-handed. For those worried about their hormones, I suggest you pick up some dumbbells and clean your hands of the smoking habit.