Metabolic syndrome increases erectile dysfunction risk

The metabolic syndrome is an independent risk factor for the development of erectile dysfunction (ED) in Chinese men, especially among those who are middle-aged, show study findings.

Physicians and patients should recognize the syndrome as a warning signal for ED, say Zengnan Mo (Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, China) and colleagues.

"The present study is the first, large, cross-sectional study to highlight the important relationship between the metabolic syndrome and ED in the Chinese male population," say the researchers, who point out that although previous studies have revealed a link between the two conditions, limitations remained because the effects of age and other factors were poorly controlled for.

The team's analysis of data available for 3197 participants from the Fangchenggang Area Male Healthy and Examination Survey showed that, overall, men with the metabolic syndrome were significantly more likely to also have ED, at an odds ratio (OR) of 1.34, after adjustment for confounders.

In the original trial, the metabolic syndrome was defined using the updated National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III for Asian Americans, and ED was assessed using the 5-item International Index of Erectile Function.

When the population was stratified by age, the association between the metabolic syndrome and ED was only significant among those aged 40-59 years (middle-aged group), at an OR of 2.52, while it was nonsignificant among those aged 20-39 years (young group, OR=0.83) and those aged 60-79 years (elderly group, OR=1.43).

After further adjustment for smoking, alcohol drinking, physical activity, education, and body mass index (BMI), the effect of the metabolic syndrome on ED in the middle-aged group was reduced but still remained significant, at an OR of 2.43.

As reported in Urology, unadjusted analysis showed a significant association between ED and the individual metabolic syndrome components abnormal fasting blood glucose (FBG), waist circumference, and blood pressure levels. However, after adjustment for age, smoking, alcohol drinking, physical activity, education, and BMI, only increased FBG was significantly associated with ED, at an OR of 1.31.

"The early identification and treatment of at-risk individuals could help target interventions to improve ED… including weight management, lifestyle interventions, and physical activity," concludes the team.

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