Diabetes significantly raises the risk of impotence, researchers have proven.
A major study by the universities of Exeter and Oxford has convincingly shown that type two diabetes is a cause of erectile dysfunction.
The researchers examined health data from more than 220,000 men – and showed that a genetic predisposition to type two diabetes is linked to erectile problems.
But they stressed that just because some people are genetically predisposed to get diabetes, it does not mean that this is their inevitable fate.
So if men improve their lifestyle – by exercising more and eating better – they can avoid diabetes and also have a functioning sex life.
And in time, the researchers believe common diabetes drugs could be ‘repurposed’ as treatments for impotence.
Researcher Dr Anna Murray, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: ‘Erectile dysfunction affects at least one in five men over 60, yet up until now little has been known about its cause.
‘Our paper echoes recent findings that the cause can be genetic, and it goes further.
‘We found that a genetic predisposition to type two diabetes is linked to erectile dysfunction.
‘That may mean that if people can reduce their risk of diabetes through healthier lifestyles, they may also avoid developing erectile dysfunction.’
Diabetes is the one of the world’s fastest growing health crisis, with the number of people suffering from the disease having doubled in just 20 years in the UK.
The problem is largely being driven by obesity, with 90 per cent of people with the condition suffering from the type 2 form, which is linked to lifestyle and diet.
Diabetes is by itself already a huge health problem – putting the kidneys, heart, eyes and brain at risk.
But the new study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, proves the condition also has a major impact on men’s sex life.
Medical firms have long vied to come up with different ways to treat erectile dysfunction, knowing there are fortunes to be made for those who can come up with an effective treatment.