Smoking is considered a silent killer and a growing epidemic worldwide; smoking cigarettes are considered a negative influence on health causing various diseases. Research shows several effects of smoking on the endocrinal system in males, especially its effects on testosterone levels. Does smoking lower testosterone? Well, smoking cigarettes have been found to negatively influence the endocrinal system causing pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, testicular, and ovarian dysfunction.
Let’s focus on testosterone levels, before that let’s understand what testosterone is and its functions.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone responsible for normal growth and development which helps in maintenance of male sex characteristics like masculinity and muscle building. Testosterone also affects lean body mass and sexual function in both males and females. Testosterone is produced by testicles in males and by ovaries in females, with small amounts also produced by the adrenal glands in both the genders.
In females, combined with estrogen, testosterone helps with growth and maintenance and repair of women’s reproductive tissues, bone mass and human behavior.
It is very important to maintain the right balance of testosterone and estrogen in both the genders.
Beneficial effects of testosterone –
- Helps in improving Heart health: Testosterone helps in red blood cell production through bone marrow. Low levels of testosterone can lead to cardiovascular risks.
- Increased lean body mass, strength and stamina: Testosterone is responsible for increasing muscle mass; leaner body mass helps in controlling weight and increases energy. So, people with leaner body mass who complain about no increase in strength, it’s time you combine your strength training and exercise with doses of testosterone from natural or artificial supplements.
- Stronger bones: Testosterone plays a very important role in bone mineral density. Bone mineral density decreases with age as testosterone levels drop.
- Better verbal memory and Spatial abilities: Testosterone is responsible for thinking abilities and faster processing speed, low testosterone levels can also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Better libido: Testosterone levels rise in response to sexual arousal and activity. Men with higher levels of testosterone usually have greater sexual activity.
- Improved mood/sense of wellbeing: Lower testosterone levels are associated with poorer quality of life often with symptoms of depression, fatigue and irritability.
Higher than normal testosterone levels –
- Hair loss and acne
- Mood wings
- Mania in those with bipolar disorder
- Water retention
- Breast enlargement in men
- Increased aggression and hypersexual behavior
- Increase in bad cholesterol (LDL)
- Decrease in good cholesterol (HDL)
Like everything in life, balance is the key. Too much of a good thing can be detrimental to your health.
Top reasons why testosterone levels may go low –
- Heavy alcohol intake
- Luteinizing hormone deficiency
- Illness and ageing
- Low Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
- Effect of medications like appetite stimulant, antifungal agent, anti-inflammatory corticosteroids and antacids.
- Infections and diseases
- Street drugs
- Genetic makeup
Can smoking be one of the causes for lowering testosterone levels?
Does smoking lower testosterone levels?
Though there are unsettling debates about smoking reducing testosterone levels, studies showed significant differences in serum testosterone levels being lower among smokers as compared to non-smokers. Indicating that smoking reduces testosterone levels. Although the mechanism behind why smoking reduces testosterone levels is unclear. On the contrary, latest evidence shows that testosterone levels in both smokers and nonsmokers indicated almost same testosterone levels, this result indicated testosterone levels probably remain unaffected by smoking cigarettes.
So, you see the confusion still continues …
But science never fails to answer that smoking reduces zinc levels in the body which is one of the principal minerals required to produce testosterone. This indicates that men with poor dietary habits and smoking habit can have zinc deficiency which may lead to low testosterone levels.
Natural ways to increase your testosterone levels –
- Herbs like Ginseng, ashwagandha, pine bark extract, saw palmetto
- Vitamins like Vitamin D, dehydroepiandrosterone, L- arginine and Zinc
- Foods like garlic, tuna, egg yolks and oysters
NOTE: These can boost your testosterone levels only in combination with strength or resistance training.
If you’re thinking that smoking won’t harm your testosterone levels, if you’re eating well, it’s not a sensible choice. If your overall health is not satisfactory you won’t be able to cherish the aggressive raging testosterone levels for a longer period of time.
Smoking lowers testosterone levels or not, it is advisable not to smoke, as smoking cigarettes has a harmful impact on the wellness of your vital organs including the heart and lungs.
Directly or indirectly smoking does affect sexual and overall general health.
Stay tobacco/nicotine free.
Stay healthy 😊
Written by Aishwarya Deepika, ENHAPP Nutritionist & Wellness Coach.