Scientists report they have uncovered the first evidence that erectile dysfunction may have genetic underpinnings.
In the study, the researchers analyzed data from hundreds of thousands of men. The investigators found gene variations in a specific spot in the human genome near the SIM1 gene that are significantly associated with an increased risk of impotence.
Common among older men
“Identifying this SIM1 locus as a risk factor for erectile dysfunction is a big deal because it provides the long sought-after proof that there is a genetic component to the disease,” said study author Eric Jorgenson. He’s a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s division of research.
“Identifying the first genetic risk factor for erectile dysfunction is an exciting discovery because it opens the door for investigations into new, genetic-based therapies,” he added in a Kaiser news release.
Erectile dysfunction is a common condition among older men and is linked to many causes, such as neurological, hormonal and vascular factors. There are treatments that target these factors, but many men don’t respond to them.
Partners suffer silently
Genetics are believed to play a role in about one-third of erectile dysfunction cases, but this is the first time that researchers have connected a specific genomic location with the disorder.
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
According to study co-author Dr Hunter Wessells, “This study points to a new research direction for erectile dysfunction that could help us identify other key genetic variants that trigger the disease and lead to investigations to better understand the precise mechanisms by which they operate.” Wessells is chair of urology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
“Hopefully, this will translate into better treatments and, importantly, prevention approaches for the men and their partners who often suffer silently with this condition,” he added.
Booze could be making you fat
There’s growing evidence for a link between alcoholism and obesity, but more research is needed.
Why do we drink alcohol? There are so many reasons – and whether you enjoy cracking open a cold beer in summer or indulging in a fragrant glass of wine – the bottom line is, alcohol provides a sense of pleasure.
But at seven calories per gram of alcohol, your daily tipple can wreak havoc on your waistline. We know that we need to lower our alcohol intake and choose our drinks wisely to maintain a healthy weight – but can excessive alcohol intake lead to actual obesity?
The link between alcohol and obesity
Research published in the Current Obesity Reports attempted to establish a direct link between alcohol consumption and obesity. While there are proven factors in alcohol that contribute to weight gain, there were limits in the study that prevented establishing a definite link between alcohol and obesity.
Studies done at the Washington School of Medicine in St Louis looked at data from two large alcoholism surveys. While the first survey showed
no link between obesity and a family history of alcoholism, the second more recent survey did indicate that those with a family history of alcoholism were more likely to become obese.
The researchers suggested that this link could be the result of environmental factors – an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and the consumption of unhealthy food.
Binge-drinking worse than regular consumption
Another study showed that people who binge-drink are more likely to gain weight as opposed to those who drank regularly, but in small quantities.
There are several factors that can lead to weight gain and eventual obesity if you continue to drink heavily:
1. Alcohol is calorie-dense and void of nutrition
Not all calories are the same. While some calories provide beneficial nutrition, the calories in alcohol have no nutritional value. Some alcoholic beverages are also packed with sugar, especially if you prefer cocktails or hard liquor with a soft drink mixer. If you tend to binge-drink, the situation gets even worse as calories add up pretty quickly. When your body gets too much energy from alcohol, it isn’t used and ends up being stored as fat instead.
2. Alcohol makes us more likely to eat unhealthy and snack impulsively
There’s nothing that makes you throw your inhibitions out the door faster than a booze-filled night. Alcohol makes your blood sugar rise and plummet, leading to the inevitable munchies – and you certainly won’t be craving a salad in your inebriated state. You’re more likely to forget all about your healthy diet and choose the greasiest meal on the menu – on top of the calories you already consumed from alcohol. If you make a habit of this kind of behaviour, it will most certainly lead to weight gain.
3. Alcohol can get in the way of working out
If you regularly binge-drink over weekends, it’s unlikely that you will feel like training for that marathon or go to the gym. You will feel lethargic and sluggish and it will be easier for you to skip your workout session. While the occasional night of debauchery probably won’t ruin your exercise plan, habitual indulging could certainly turn you into an overweight couch potato.
4. Alcohol can alter the brain
According to research, there are similarities in the pathways that lead to overeating and dependence on alcohol. Ethanol triggers the brain to signal “starvation mode”, which can lead to an increase in appetite and overeating
Soap could cause erectile dysfunction
You may not think that common household products can cause erectile dysfunction but there is evidence to suggest that certain chemicals may do just that.
While singing in the shower, have you ever stopped to think that the soap you’re using may be affecting your erections? Probably not, but the truth is that chemicals common in many antibacterial soaps may affect your ability to produce or maintain an erection.
Benefits largely unproven
Many of us fear the unseen bacteria lurking almost everywhere. Because of this, we often look for “antibacterial” labels on products while shopping in the hope of keeping ourselves and our children healthy. Much of this fear has been created by the producers of these commercial goods, with advertising insisting that we need these products to avoid becoming ill. The truth of the matter is that the benefits of using antibacterial products are largely unproven, according to a statement by the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA).
Manufacturers need to add certain chemicals during the production process to make products “antibacterial”. Such chemicals can be found in many consumer products such as soap, toothpaste, kitchenware and even toys, but may actually be more harmful than we think.
Triclosan is one of the chemicals used for antibacterial properties. Beyond Pesticide explains that it is predominantly absorbed through the skin, from soap, body washes and lotions or through the lining of the mouth, from toothpaste or food exposed to the chemical.
It has been linked to an increased risk of allergies, eczema and asthma in children. It is also considered to be a potential endocrine disruptor. This means that research has indicated that it could potentially affect hormone functioning in the human body.
Bacterial resistance to triclosan has been shown during research although further studies are needed to show what effect it would have on bacterial resistance in a normal environment, The Encyclopaedia of Earth explains. The FDA states that certain antibacterial ingredients such as triclosan may actually be linked to bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
Triclosan and male sexual health
The results of 2008 study published in the Oxford Journal of Toxicology Sciences, suggest that exposure to Triclosan can affect certain hormone levels. The study exposed rats to triclosan at a concentration of 5ml per 100g body mass. The researchers found that the rats exposed to triclosan had significantly lower testosterone levels than the control group.
Another study into rats conducted by The Indian Institute of Technology’s Department of Biotechnology showed that exposure to triclosan over a 60 day period resulted in lower sperm production.
While researchers are yet to conduct similar studies in humans, experts are advocating the removal of triclosan from consumer products because of the multiple risks it could pose to our health.
What effects can lower testosterone have?
Testosterone is the main male sex hormone and is responsible for sexual function. Low testosterone levels can have a number of effects on a man. Some symptoms are poor sleep, irritability, depressed mood, poor muscle tone and increased body fat, especially around the stomach.
Sexually, it can result in a lower sex drive, shrinking testes, abnormal sperm production and erectile dysfunction, a Health24 article states.
Should I change my soap?
The FDA is conducting further research into triclosan to determine what effects the chemical could have in humans, so for now, the decision lies with you really.
Locally, Johnson & Johnson South Africa and Reckitt Benckiser have decided to phase out the chemical from their products. Both Woolworths and Clicks do not use triclosan in their house brand products, according to an article by Bizcommunity.
Legally, manufacturers using triclosan are required to list it as an ingredient on the product’s label. If you are worried about chemicals and your health, simply avoid purchasing products that contain it.
Just as many people are neurotic about germs, it is easy to become similarly anxious about chemicals. Unfortunately in today’s world we simply are exposed to many more chemicals than the generations before us. It is possible to reduce your exposure by adopting an organic lifestyle but even then, chemicals cannot be avoided entirely.
Facts about condoms you might not know about
Latex condoms last an average of 5 years after the date of manufacture
Condoms are typically made from latex, polyurethane and lamb skin
A condom can hold about 3.8 liters of liquid
Change a condom every 30 minutes, friction weakens it.
When used correctly, condoms are 98% effective at preventing STI’S and unplanned pregnancies
When it comes to HIV, condoms make sex 10 000 times safer
The first rubber condom was manufactured in 1855
There are more than 50 different names of condoms e.g raincoat, nightcap and lovesock.
Store in a cool dry place
Use silicon or water based lubricants
Use a new condom everytime you have sex
Use two condoms at once
Expose to high heat
Flush used condoms down the toilet
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