A study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics has found evidence that genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes causes erectile dysfunction, which is a problem for at least one in five men over 60.
Using cutting-edge genetic analysis, researchers at the University of Oxford and University of Exeter examined the complex correlations between diabetes and aspects including body weight. They found that having a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes was linked with erectile dysfunction, providing evidence that diabetes can be a cause of erectile issues.
The large scale genomic analysis looked at data from more than 220,000 men 6,000 of whom experienced erectile dysfunction. The data was drawn from the UK Biobank, the Estonian Genome Center of the University of Tartu cohort, and hospital-recruited Partners HealthCare Biobank.
The study echoes recent findings which identified a specific region of the genome that is linked to erectile dysfunction, and opens the possibility that living a healthier lifestyle may help reduce risk.
Very few clinical trials of diabetes have reported erectile dysfunction as an outcome of improved glucose control. This limits the conclusions that can be drawn about whether treatment of diabetes is likely to have an impact on erectile dysfunction risk.
Dr Jonas Bovijn is the co-first author of the study and is from the Big Data Institute at the University of Oxford. He said: “We know that there is observational evidence linking erectile dysfunction and type 2 diabetes, but until now there has not been definitive evidence to show that predisposition to type 2 diabetes causes erectile dysfunction.”
Professor Michael Holmes, one of the lead authors, 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.”