The term “erectile dysfunction” may cause you to chortle. However, it really is no laughing matter. This is because an increasing number of men are experiencing erectile dysfunction (or ED) and related concerns, such as inflamed prostate and prostate cancer. Though unhealthy dietary habits and sedentary lifestyle routine are known contributors to ED, a new study suggests pollution in the environment is also to blame.
The study was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. During the trial, researchers at Guangzhou University, China, tested the effects of motor vehicle exhaust (VE) on erectile performance — in rats, at least. Their verdict, unfortunately, was not good.
The rats were first split into four groups of 10 individuals. Then, they were exposed to different levels of VE over a three-month period. The first group (the control) were not exposed to any exhaust. However, the other three groups were exposed to VE for two hours, four hours, and six hours a day, five days a week, respectively.
At the end of the three months, the researchers tested the rats’ lungs for function with a Forced Pulmonary Maneuver System. They also tested the critters’ erection function using electrical stimulation. It was concluded that those groups exposed to VE for four or six hours experienced “significant reduction of erectile function,” measured in terms of intracavernous pressure (ICP). IFLScience reports: “The two groups displayed reduced ICP of 38.6 percent (four hours) and 45.6 percent (six hours), in comparison to the control group.”
The “poor performance” is hypothesized to be a combination of systemic inflammation, pulmonary dysfunction, and reduced levels of nitric oxide synthase in the erectile tissue. Though additional research is needed, the researchers suggest there may be a link between respiratory disease and sexual function.
It should, of course, be noted that this study was conducted on rats — not humans. As a result, it is wise to take the finding with a pinch of salt until clinical trials are conducted. The researchers are aware of this, which is why they said that further well-designed studies are needed to corroborate these findings.
“The major limitation of our preliminary study is our VE exposure model, although traffic exhaust was the main source of urban air pollution, [we] could not entirely mimic the natural condition of ambient air pollution,”explains the team in the study. “On the other hand, we acknowledge that the concentration of the pollutants in our study is too high and lacks a ‘dose response.’”
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