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Scientists find genetic risk factor for erectile dysfunction

Raghu Kshitiz

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WASHINGTON — For the first time, scientists have found a specific place in the human genome that raises a man’s risk of erectile dysfunction.

The researchers, in the study published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, analyzed data from hundreds of thousands of men.

They found that gene variations in a specific spot in the human genome near the SIM1 gene that are significantly associated with an increased risk of impotence.

The finding is a significant progress in the understanding of the genetics underlying erectile dysfunction (ED), the inability to obtain and maintain an erection sufficient for sexual activity, which is a common condition of men of primarily in middle and older ages.

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“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, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s division of research.

The disease is linked to many causes, such as neurological, hormonal and vascular factors. Many men don’t respond to therapies based on these factors however.

Genetics has been suspected to be a factor in about one-third of ED cases, but researchers have failed to make any link with any specific genomic locations until now.

The new study found that variations in a genetic locus near the SIM1 gene are significantly associated with an increased risk of erectile dysfunction.

The researchers ruled out that the risk was due to other known risk factors for erectile dysfunction, such as body mass index.

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The study also demonstrated a biological role for the genetic location in regulating sexual function, strongly suggesting that these variations can cause erectile dysfunction.

The study found that variations in the SIM1 locus were associated with a 26-percent increased risk of erectile dysfunction. This risk was independent of known erectile dysfunction risk factors.

The SIM1 gene is known to be part of a signaling pathway that plays a central role in body weight regulation and sexual function.

Agencies

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Suicide can’t be predicted by asking about suicidal thoughts : Study

Gorkha Post

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Most people who died of suicide deny they experience suicidal thoughts when asked by doctors in the weeks and months leading up to their death, a major Australian study has found.

The findings, co-authored by clinical psychiatrist and Professor Matthew Large from UNSW’s School of Psychiatry, Sydney that published in the journal BJPsych Open The meta-analysis challenge the widely-held assumption that psychiatrists can predict who will suicide by asking if they are preoccupied with thoughts of killing themselves.

The study showed that 80% of patients who were not undergoing psychiatric treatment and who died of suicide reported not to have suicidal thoughts when asked by their psychiatrist or GP.

“If you meet someone who has suicidal ideation there is a 98 per cent chance that they are not going to suicide,” said Professor Large, an international expert on suicide risk assessment who also works in the emergency department of a major Sydney hospital.

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“But what we didn’t know was how frequently people who go on to suicide have denied having suicidal thoughts when asked directly,” he added.

“This study proves we can no longer ration psychiatric care based on the presence of suicidal thoughts alone. We need to provide high-quality, patient-centred care for everyone experiencing mental illness, whether or not they reveal they are experiencing suicidal thoughts,” Professor Large said.

About one in 10 people will have suicidal ideation in their lifetime. But the study showed suicidal ideation alone was not rational grounds for deciding who gets treatment and who does not, Professor Large said.

“We know that suicide feeling is pretty common and that suicide is actually a rare event, even among people with severe mental illness,” Professor Large added.

Suicidal ideation tells us an awful lot about how a person is feeling, their psychological distress, sometimes their diagnosis and their need for treatment but it’s not a meaningful test of future behaviour.

Suicidal feelings can fluctuate rapidly and people may suicide very impulsively after only a short period of suicidal thoughts.

But, people had good reasons not to disclose thoughts of suicide, fearing stigma, triggering over-reactions or upsetting family and friends, and being involuntarily admitted for psychiatric treatment, Professor Large said.

Professor Large emphasized that clinicians should not assume that patients experiencing mental distress without reporting suicidal ideas were not at elevated risk of suicide.

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