Does Smoking Tobacco and Cigars Lower Testosterone Levels?
Medical Review by Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD
For many years I used to think that smoking would completely crush testosterone levels. I didn’t even read the studies about smoking and testosterone, I just assumed that as smoking is so harsh on the human body in so many ways, and the fact that it’s filled with possible endocrine-disrupting chemicals and carcinogenic smoke, that it had to have testosterone lowering effect.
But does it really?
UPDATE 13.4.2015: Added a few studies.
The Science Behind Smoking and Testosterone
I personally don’t smoke, I only tend to do it when I’m drunk.
So smoking and its adverse health effects have never really interested me on a personal level.
But now after this blog is visited by more than 400,000 men on a monthly basis, I have been getting a lot of emails from worried guys asking me if their habit of smoking would decrease their testosterone levels.
So for the first time ever, I decided to take the time to look at the studies about smoking and testosterone.
b) This study found out similar results. Men who were heavy smokers, and men who didn’t smoke, had similar levels of androgens and SHBG.
c) This study featured 71 men who decided to give up the habit of smoking. In short term (few months) the men did experience a slight increase in testosterone levels after ceasing the habit, but after a year the men were back at the same levels as of which they were when they still smoked, some even had lower testosterone.
d) These studies suggest that male dogs, mice, and rats, all experience a significant reduction in testosterone levels after being exposed to tobacco smoke (study, study, study).
e) This study examined multiple studies about smoking and testosterone and came to a conclusion that the smokers may have higher testosterone levels because of the fact that men with higher testosterone are more prone to taking risks in all fields, such as gambling, finances, health, etc. And thus the men who have high testosterone could potentially end up smokers more likely than “safe” men with lower testosterone levels.
f) This study found out that the globally decreasing testosterone after men turn 30, is not part of “normal aging process” but its due to bad lifestyle choices such as poor diet, obesity, and smoking. However, they didn’t prove anything about smoking and testosterone in the actual study.
g) This study found out that men who smoke may actually have higher levels of free testosterone in their blood serum.
h) This study found out that men who smoke metabolize more testosterone. Meaning that their liver gets rid of testosterone more easily. Weirdly enough this doesn’t seem to affect total testosterone levels in all of the previous studies.
i) This study found out that smokers and non-smokers had no significant differences in testosterone levels, but they did find out that smoking depletes the body from zinc which is one of the principal minerals behind healthy testosterone production. Theoretically, this would mean that smoking along with poor diet could leave some men zinc deficient, and thus lower their testosterone.
j) One thing that might partially explain these effects is the facts that nicotine is a potent aromatase inhibitor (study, study, study).
As you can see from the mounting pile of evidence, it truly seems like smoking doesn’t decrease testosterone levels after all, which is weird. But after such a tremendous amount of evidence from the scientific world, the claim that smoking reduces testosterone levels may just be an empty one.
The research clearly shows that smoking may not decrease human testosterone levels after all. At least that’s what the science says, common sense may differ (mine does for sure).
My recommendation would still be that if you smoke you should give up the habit, as it’s known to cause serious problems with the heart, arteries, lungs, and erections.
…And even though tobacco seemingly doesn’t decrease testosterone, it can still become lethal, which means that you don’t get to enjoy the T in the long run.