Environmental health : a global access science source 2017 02 1716(1) 12 doi 10.1186/s12940-017-0216-6
Little is known about the association between air pollution and erectile dysfunction (ED), a disorder occurring in 64% of men over the age of 70, and to date, no studies have been published. To address this significant knowledge gap, we explored the relationship between ED and air pollution in a group of older men who were part of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), a nationally representative cohort study of older Americans.
We obtained incident ED status and participant data for 412 men (age 57-85). Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposures were estimated using spatio-temporal models based on participants’ geocoded addresses, while nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3) concentrations were estimated using nearest measurements from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality System. The association between air pollution and incident ED (newly developed in Wave 2) was examined and logistic regression models were run with adjusted models controlling for race, education, season, smoking, obesity, diabetes, depression, and median household income of census tract.
We found positive, although statistically insignificant, associations between PM2.5, NO2, and O3 exposures and odds of incident ED for each of our examined exposure windows, including 1 to 7 year moving averages. Odds ratios (OR) for 1 and 7 year moving averages equaled 1.16 (95% CI: 0.87, 1.55) and 1.16 (95% CI: 0.92, 1.46), respectively, for an IQR increase in PM2.5 exposures. Observed associations were robust to model specifications and were not significantly modified by any of the examined risk factors for ED.
We found associations between PM2.5, NO2, and O3 exposures and odds of developing ED that did not reach nominal statistical significance, although exposures to each pollutant were consistently associated with higher odds of developing ED. While more research is needed, our findings suggest a relationship between air pollutant exposure and incident cases of ED, a common condition in older men.