SOURCE: Times Online
DATE: FEB 08, 2008
BY: James Hider in Jerusalem
Viagra renders fighter pilots a potent force
Israeli fighter pilots may soon be receiving Viagra-style pills to help them to perform better at greater heights, according to a study by military officials released yesterday.
While the potential use of antiimpotence pills may make pilots’ enemies in the Middle East crack a joke or two at their expense, military researchers believe the ingredients that allow improved blood flow for men suffering from sexual problems may help flyers operating at very high altitudes.
The proposal, to be presented to the air force by a retired general, developed from a study by Israeli doctors among mountain climbers scaling Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, according to Bamahaneh (“On the Army Base”), an official military magazine. The study found that tadalafil, the active ingredient in Cialis, a Viagra-like antiimpotence drug, helped climbers to ward off fatigue and dizziness at greater heights.
With combat pilots operating hi-tech equipment in low-pressure environments, doctors believe the drug could enhance their operational abilities.
“The Viagra family of drugs is considered effective in these conditions because when there is a long shortage in oxygen it leads to high blood pressure in the lungs, and the drugs help fight that,” a military medical officer told the weekly magazine.
“The study’s findings justify the continuation of tests with drugs of this type in low-oxygen environments,” an air force officer said.
Israeli air force pilots are sometimes called upon to perform incredible feats of airmanship, such as the 1981 operation to destroy Iraq’s nascent nuclear reactor. Eight F16 fighter-bombers, escorted by six F15 tactical fighters, flew almost 700 miles (1,100km) across Jordanian, Saudi Arabian and Iraqi airspace to destroy the French-built reactor.
According to some accounts, the jets flew in such close formation that any radar pickup would have identified them as one large passenger aircraft.
ON THE UP
— Viagra saved the life of Lewis Goodfellow, born prematurely last year and weighing only 1lb 8oz, when one of his lungs failed. It caused tiny blood vessels in the lung to widen, to give his body sufficient oxygen
— Argentinian research last year found that the drug may be useful in treating jet lag. Hamsters subjected to simulated jet lag recovered up to 50 per cent faster when given the drug, known generically as sildenafil
— In an American study in 2005 Viagra was given to pregnant women with high blood pressure. It helped to maintain healthy circulation and possibly contributed to easier, safer childbirth
— Viagra mixed with stimulants such as cocaine or Ecstasy has become increasingly popular in nightclubs. The combined drug — known as “sextasy” — is taken to fuel all-night dancing and sex marathons
Sources: Times archives; American Physiological Society
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