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Erectile Dysfunction Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary motor function.  Erectile function, which is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, is often compromised by the disease. A new study by Harvard researchers finds that erectile dysfunction often precedes the symptoms and diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.  The results of the study are published in the December 2007 edition of the American Journal of Epidemiology.  The researchers examined data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.  The study analyzed 32,616 men who were free of Parkinson's disease in 1986.   Scientists then examined the correlation between erectile dysfunction before 1986 and the risk of developing Parkinson's disease from 1986 to 2002. During the 16 year follow-up period, 200 men (0.6%) were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.  Men who reported erectile dysfunction prior to 1986 were 3.8 times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease than the men who reported very good erectile function. These findings, they conclude, support the hypothesis that the autonomic nervous system "may have been impaired years before Parkinson's disease is clinically recognizable."  Source: American Journal of Epidemiology2007 Volume 166 Number 12 pages 1446-1450 “Erectile Function and Risk of Parkinson's Disease”Authors: Xiang Gao, Honglei Chen, Michael A. Schwarzschild, Dale B. Glasser, Giancarlo Logroscino, Eric B. Rimm and Alberto Ascherio.

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