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E-cigarettes may be independently linked to erectile dysfunction, new research finds

Men between 20 and 65 years of age with no prior history of CVD but who use ENDS daily are more than twice (2.4 times) as likely as men who have never used ENDS to report erectile dysfunction.

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Smoking has long been associated with Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). However, little research has explored if there is a similar association among men who use Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), commonly referred to as e-cigarettes. In the first population-based study of its kind, researchers from NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine published a study online today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that suggests men between 20 and 65 years of age with no prior history of CVD but who use ENDS daily are more than twice (2.4 times) as likely as men who have never used ENDS to report erectile dysfunction.   

According to the researchers, since ENDS use seems to be associated with ED independent of age, CVD and other common ED risk factors, ENDS users should be informed about the possible link between ENDS use and experiencing ED—which impacts one in five men over the age of 20 in the United States.

“Given that many people use e-cigarettes as a form of smoking harm reduction or to help them with smoking cessation, we need to fully investigate the relationship between vaping products and erectile dysfunction, and potential implications for men’s sexual health. Our findings underscore the need to conduct further studies to contextualize the e-cigarette use pattern that is relatively safer than smoking,” said Omar El Shahawy, MD, PhD, MPH, assistant professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone and lead author of the study. “Our analyses accounted for the cigarette smoking history of participants, including those who were never cigarette smokers to begin with, so it is possible that daily e-cigarette vaping may be associated with higher odds of erectile dysfunction regardless of one’s smoking history.”

The research team used data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study, a nationally representative study of 45,971 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older that examines various tobacco use behaviors and health outcomes.

This study was restricted to 13,711 males, 20 years and older, who responded to a question regarding ED. Dr. Tanmik Shah, NYU Langone, the lead statistician and study co-author, examined the association between ENDS and ED in the full sample, as well as in a restricted sample of 11,207 adult males aged 20 to 65 years with no prior CVD diagnosis, while adjusting for multiple risk factors. Respondents were classified as never, former and current (occasional or daily) users. Almost half of the participants were former cigarette smokers, 21 percent were current cigarette smokers, and 14 percent used other tobacco products.

Compared to those who never used ENDS, daily users were more than two times more likely to report having ED (2.2 times in the full sample and 2.4 times in the restricted sample). There was a significant association between ENDS use and ED among respondents aged 20 to 65 with normal Body Mass Index and without CVD, suggesting an association of ED with ENDS use among a relatively healthy population.

Within the restricted sample, 10.2 percent of respondents reported ED. Five and a half percent reported occasional ENDS use while 2.5 percent reported daily ENDS use. Compared to those who reported never using ENDS, current daily ENDS users were more likely to report ED in both the full and restricted samples. Physical activity was associated with lower odds of ED in both population samples.

In addition to El Shahawy, other NYU Langone researchers include Scott Sherman, MD; Tanmik Shah, MPH; Meghan Durr, MPH; Ria Pinjani, MPH. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine include Michael J. Blaha, MD, who is the senior author of this work; Olufunmilayo H. Obisesan, MD, MPH; Albert D. Osei, MD, MPH; Iftekhar Uddin, MD, MSPH and Mohammadhassan Mirbolouk, MD. Additional investigators include Emilia J. Benjamin, MD, Boston University School of Medicine; Andrew Stokes, PhD, Boston University School of Medicine, Tom Loney, PhD, Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAE.

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FWD partners with GCash to provide protection against BIG 3 critical illnesses

FWD Life Insurance (FWD Philippines) has partnered with GCash, the Philippines’ leading finance super app and biggest cashless ecosystem, to encourage more Filipinos to get coverage against the three major critical illnesses in the country.

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FWD Life Insurance (FWD Philippines) has partnered with GCash, the Philippines’ leading finance super app and biggest cashless ecosystem, to encourage more Filipinos to get coverage against the three major critical illnesses in the country.

To make health protection easily accessible, FWD’s BIG 3 Critical Illness Insurance is now available for purchase by GCash users through its GInsure feature for as low as PhP298 per year.“We’re optimistic that this seamless and innovative partnership with GCash can inspire and drive more young Filipinos to become protected,” says FWD Philippines Chief Partnership Officer Irene Andas during the contract signing.

Through this partnership, FWD Philippines aims to foster a sense of trust and reliability among Filipino digital natives who primarily use GCash for their financial needs and provide accessible protection against the most critical illnesses.

Bridging the insurance gap with affordable and accessible health coverage

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the leading causes of death for Filipinos in 2023 are heart attack (19.3%), cancer (10.4%), and stroke (10.3%).

This is significantly more concerning as a nationwide survey reveals that three out of five Filipinos lack medical insurance, indicating that most Filipinos do not get medical insurance primarily because they can’t afford it (63%). Meanwhile, 30% of Filipinos rely on government’s health programs, 22% are deterred by the limited coverage and exclusions, and 15% are not aware or don’t fully understand the available insurance options.

“Most young Filipinos today do not have protection against these illnesses, especially since they can happen unexpectedly,” shares FWD Philippines Chief Marketing and Digital Business Officer Roche Vandenberghe. “However, we hope that by making this plan available via GCash, we can bridge the protection gap and make it easier for them to become prepared for such challenges.”

GCash Vice President and Group Head of New Businesses Winsley Bangit also expressed high hopes for the partnership. “We share FWD’s commitment to help more Filipinos especially when it comes to health and financial protection,” says Mr. Bangit. “With just a few taps, one can now get year-long protection against these top three illnesses.”

Easy cover for heart attack, cancer, and stroke

BIG 3 Critical Illness Insurance offers health coverage that is easy on the pocket, easy to buy, and easy to claim against the top three critical illnesses: heart attack, stroke, and early- to late-stage cancer.

Once availed, policyholders will be receiving exclusive e-gift vouchers worth PhP100 via Giftaway and claim 20 days after purchasing the policy. Customers may avail themselves of multiple policies with critical illness coverage of up to a maximum of PhP2 million.

Vandenberghe further emphasizes that this collaboration with GCash is a milestone for FWD as it celebrates its 10th year in the Philippines in 2024. “FWD continues to contribute to nation-building by empowering the next generation with more affordable insurance and protecting themselves and their loved ones.”

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Pru Life UK agents, customers, executives celebrate Year of the Wood Dragon

The insurer maintains its top position in New Business Annual Premium Equivalent & total Premium Income from Variable Life Insurance products according to the Insurance Commission’s Life Insurance Sector Quarterly Statistics for Q3 2023.

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With a strengthened commitment to providing better financial protection for every Filipino, Pru Life UK celebrates the start of the Year of the Wood Dragon. Over 200 Pru Life UK leaders, agents, clients, and employees joined and wished everyone PRU Love during the festivities held at the heart of its Escolta branch in Binondo Manila.

The insurer maintains its top position in New Business Annual Premium Equivalent & total Premium Income from Variable Life Insurance products according to the Insurance Commission’s Life Insurance Sector Quarterly Statistics for Q3 2023.

Pru Life UK’s products are made accessible through its over 42,000 digitally-empowered agency workforce and like-minded partners.

The Company recently launched PRULove for Life – an affordable, limited-pay, whole-life participating plan for as low as Php 87 per day* with lifetime coverage up to age 100 and flexible payment terms of 5, 10, 15, or 20 years to pay. To know more about PRULove for Life, talk to your Pru Life UK agent today or visit Pru Life UK’s website.

Pru Life UK is also committed to driving up financial awareness, literacy, and inclusion in the country by leading industry discussions and programs for the community. Its PRUBabies campaign seeks to protect 175,000 newborns with free insurance coverage against select infectious diseases such as Dengue, Typhoid, Measles, and Malaria.

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Eating too much protein is bad for your arteries, and this amino acid is to blame

Consuming over 22% of dietary calories from protein can lead to increased activation of immune cells that play a role in atherosclerotic plaque formation, driving the disease risk.

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University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers discovered a molecular mechanism by which excessive dietary protein could increase atherosclerosis risk. The findings were published in Nature Metabolism.

The study, which combined small human trials with experiments in mice and cells in a Petri dish, showed that consuming over 22% of dietary calories from protein can lead to increased activation of immune cells that play a role in atherosclerotic plaque formation, driving the disease risk. Furthermore, the scientists showed that one amino acid – leucine – seems to have a disproportionate role in driving the pathological pathways linked to atherosclerosis, or stiff, hardened arteries.

“Our study shows that dialing up your protein intake in pursuit of better metabolic health is not a panacea. You could be doing real damage to your arteries,” said senior and co-corresponding author Babak Razani, M.D., Ph.D., professor of cardiology at Pitt. “Our hope is that this research starts a conversation about ways of modifying diets in a precise manner that can influence body function at a molecular level and dampen disease risks.”

According to a survey of an average American diet over the last decade, Americans generally consume a lot of protein, mostly from animal sources. Further, nearly a quarter of the population receives over 22% of all daily calories from protein alone.

That trend is likely driven by the popular idea that dietary protein is essential to healthy living, says Razani. But his and other groups have shown that overreliance on protein may not be such a good thing for long-term health.

Following their 2020 research, in which Razani’s laboratory first showed that excess dietary protein increases atherosclerosis risk in mice, his next study in collaboration with Bettina Mittendorfer, Ph.D., a metabolism expert at the University of Missouri, Columbia, delved deeper into the potential mechanism and its relevance to the human body.

To arrive at the answer, Razani’s laboratory, led by first-authors Xiangyu Zhang, Ph.D., and Divya Kapoor, M.D., teamed up with Mittendorfer’s group to combine their expertise in cellular biology and metabolism and perform a series of experiments across various models – from cells to mice to humans.

“We have shown in our mechanistic studies that amino acids, which are really the building blocks of the protein, can trigger disease through specific signaling mechanisms and then also alter the metabolism of these cells,” Mittendorfer said. “For instance, small immune cells in the vasculature called macrophages can trigger the development of atherosclerosis.”

Based on initial experiments in healthy human subjects to determine the timeline of immune cell activation following ingestion of protein-enriched meals, the researchers simulated similar conditions in mice and in human macrophages, immune cells that are shown to be particularly sensitive to amino acids derived from protein.

Their work showed that consuming more than 22% of daily dietary calories through protein can negatively affect macrophages that are responsible for clearing out cellular debris, leading to the accumulation of a “graveyard” of those cells inside the vessel walls and worsening of atherosclerotic plaques overtime. Interestingly, the analysis of circulating amino acids showed that leucine – an amino acid enriched in animal-derived foods like beef, eggs and milk – is primarily responsible for abnormal macrophage activation and atherosclerosis risk, suggesting a potential avenue for further research on personalized diet modification, or “precision nutrition.”

Razani is careful to note that many questions remain to be answered, mainly: What happens when a person consumes between 15% of daily calories from protein as recommended by the USDA and 22% of daily calories from protein, and if there is a ‘sweet spot’ for maximizing the benefits of protein – such as muscle gain – while avoiding kick-starting a molecular cascade of damaging events leading to cardiovascular disease.

The findings are particularly relevant in hospital settings, where nutritionists often recommend protein-rich foods for the sickest patients to preserve muscle mass and strength.

“Perhaps blindly increasing protein load is wrong,” Razani said. “Instead, it’s important to look at the diet as a whole and suggest balanced meals that won’t inadvertently exacerbate cardiovascular conditions, especially in people at risk of heart disease and vessel disorders.”

Razani also notes that these findings suggest differences in leucine levels between diets enriched in plant and animal protein might explain the differences in their effect on cardiovascular and metabolic health. “The potential for this type of mechanistic research to inform future dietary guidelines is quite exciting,” he said.

Additional authors of the study are Yu-Sheng Yeh, Ph.D., also from Pitt; Alan Fappi, Ph.D. and Vasavi Shabrish, Ph.D., both of the University of Missouri, Columbia; Se-Jin Jeong, Ph.D., Jeremiah Stitham, M.D., Ph.D., Ismail Sergin, Ph.D., Eman Yousif, M.D., Astrid Rodriguez-Velez, Ph.D., Arick Park, M.D., Ph.D., Joel Schilling, M.D., Ph.D., Marco Sardiello, Ph.D., Abhinav Diwan, M.D., Nathan Stitziel, M.D., Ph.D., Ali Javaheri, M.D., Ph.D., Irfan Lodhi, Ph.D., and Jaehyung Cho, Ph.D., all of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis; Arif Yurdagul Jr, Ph.D., and Oren Rom, Ph.D., both of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center; and Slava Epelman, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Toronto.

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