According to a recent study conducted by a team of researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), caffeine intake reduces the odds of prevalent erectile dysfunction (ED), especially an intake equivalent to approximately 2-3 daily cups of coffee (170-375 mg/day). The study was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Caffeine is consumed by more than 85% of adults, however, little is known about its role on erectile dysfunction in population-based studies. To address this limitation, in their work titled “Role of Caffeine Intake on Erectile Dysfunction in US Men: Results from NHANES 2001-2004,” the researchers analyzed data for 3724 men (≥20 years old) who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). ED was assessed by a single question during a self-paced, computer-assisted self-interview. The researchers analyzed 24-h dietary recall data to estimate caffeine intake (mg/day).
The results revealed that men who consumed between 85 and 170 milligrams of caffeine a day were 42% less likely to report ED, while those who drank between 171 and 303 milligrams of caffeine a day were 39% less likely to report ED in comparison with those men who drank zero to seven milligrams a day. This trend was also true among overweight, obese and hypertensive men.
“Even though we saw a reduction in the prevalence of ED with men who were obese, overweight and hypertensive, that was not true of men with diabetes. Diabetes is one of the strongest risk factors for ED, so this was not surprising,” said in a recent news release David S. Lopez, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., lead author and assistant professor at UTHealth School of Public Health.
In the US, the prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men aged ≥20 years is 18.4% suggesting that more than 18 million are affected. Among older men, these numbers significantly increase affecting their overall quality of life: at age 40, approximately 44% are affected and this number increases nearly to 70% by age 70.
Caffeine is obtained mainly from dietary fluid sources, such as coffee, tea, soda, and energy/sport drinks. About two-thirds of American adults drink coffee on a daily basis, 52% of the US male population drinks at least one glass of soda per day, while over 50% drinks tea on any given day, and 17% consumes energy and sport drinks more than three times per week. Coffee, and its most studied component, caffeine, has been implicated in potential health benefits due to the rich sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds contained in this beverage.
The researchers indicate that the biological mechanism behind these results are based on the fact that caffeine triggers a series of pharmacological effects that lead to the relaxation of the penile helicine arteries and the cavernous smooth muscle that lines cavernosal spaces, thus increasing penile blood flow.