Type 2 diabetes has been identified as a cause of erectile dysfunction (ED), according to a recent genetic analysis.
Scientists explained that insulin resistance was likely a “mediating pathway” and that high systolic blood pressure (pressure in blood vessels when the heart beats) could have a “potential causal effect.”
The study involved data from over 220,000 men in three European cohorts: the UK Biobank, the Estonian Genome Center of the University of Tartu cohort, and the Partners HealthCare Biobank.
From these groups, scientists identified 6,175 men with ED based on patient self-reports, physician reports, and ED treatment information, including surgical history and prescription drugs.
The researchers performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and determined that men with a genetic predisposition for type 2 diabetes were at higher risk for ED.
Research published last year found a potential genetic component for ED as well.
The connection could inform future ED interventions, the authors noted.
“Erectile dysfunction affects at least one in five men over 60, yet up until now little has been known about its cause,” co-lead author Dr. Anna Murray said in a University of Exeter news statement. “Our paper echoes recent findings that the cause can be genetic, and it goes further. We found that a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes is linked to erectile dysfunction. That may mean that if people can reduce their risk of diabetes through healthier lifestyles, they may also avoid developing erectile dysfunction.”
Professor Michael Holmes, another co-author, said, “Our finding is important as diabetes is preventable and indeed one can now achieve ‘remission’ from diabetes with weight loss, as illustrated in recent clinical trials. This goes beyond finding a genetic link to erectile dysfunction to a message that is of widespread relevance to the general public, especially considering the burgeoning prevalence of diabetes.”
The study was published in December in the American Journal of Human Genetics.
American Journal of Human Genetics
“GWAS Identifies Risk Locus for Erectile Dysfunction and Implicates Hypothalamic Neurobiology and Diabetes in Etiology”
(Full-text. Published: December 20, 2018)
Medscape Medical News
“Type 2 Diabetes Could Be a Cause of Erectile Dysfunction”
(December 26, 2018)
University of Exeter
“Convincing evidence that type 2 diabetes is a cause of erectile dysfunction”
(December 20, 2018)