It's indeed a hard habit to kick. But if you don't stop smoking right away, you might experience infertility.
Do you smoke?
You could be unwittingly lowering your sperm quality, a new study warns.
The research that included 20 non-smoking men and 20 men who smoked found that that sperm of smokers has a greater extent of DNA damage than that of non-smokers.
Researchers also assessed 422 proteins in participants' sperm. One protein was absent, 27 proteins were underrepresented, and 6 proteins were over-represented in smokers.
Analyses of these proteins suggest that cigarette smoking may promote an inflammatory response in the male reproductive tract.
"More and more studies are demonstrating a harmful effect of smoking on male fertility.
"Our results point in the direction of important semen alterations: semen of smokers presents an inflammatory nature, associated with decreased capacity of sperm to achieve fertilisation and generate a healthy pregnancy," said senior author Dr Ricardo Pimenta Bertolla.
Bertolla added that in the study, sperm DNA fragmentation was increased.
Other studies have proposed this to be a potentially promutagenic effect, which is to say that sperm with altered DNA may lead to health problems in the offspring.
The study appears in BJU International.
Lead image used for representational purposes only.