Erectile dysfunction (ED) is among the most awkward topics for Filipino men. In a nation where machismo is still a positive value, nobody wants to talk about the inability to use one’s tools when the situation calls for it. In the perception of the uninformed, erectile dysfunction is often tantamount to a diminished level of manliness and virility.
Of course, science tells us that this notion is completely inaccurate. Over the years and across dozens of studies, factors such as stress, alcohol consumption, smoking and excess body weight have all been strongly linked to the condition. Scientists have also suggested in the past that genetics may be a factor but definitive proof has been scant until researchers from the Kaiser Permanente group made an interesting discovery.
In a study covering 37,000 adult men in the United States, the researchers found that men who had variations in their sixth chromosomes near the SIM1 gene were 26% more likely to suffer from erectile problems than their counterparts who didn’t have the gene quality. Even after risk factors such as smoking, alcoholism and being overweight were ruled out, the heightened risk was still evident.
“Identifying this SIM1 locus as a risk factor for erectile dysfunction is a big deal,” said Eric Jorgenson, PhD who led the study. “It provides the long sought-after proof that there is a genetic component to the disease.”
The SIM1 gene has long been linked to the regulation of body weight and sexual function in men. Having confirmation that a variation near it is contributing to ED opens the doors for further genetics-based research which target the problem at the root.
Currently, ED is treated with the development of healthier lifestyle habits, medication or even with surgical implants. Depending on the underlying causes determined by qualified health professionals, the recommended treatment may vary from person to person.