SATURDAY, March 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Anti-cholesterol
drugs known as statins may help impotent men have stronger
erections, a new evidence review suggests.
But typical effects appear to be much smaller than those caused
by Viagra-like drugs, and it may be barely noticeable to many men,
an expert said.
Still, the findings -- which need to be confirmed in future
studies -- raise the prospect that statin drugs may become more
appealing to men with erectile dysfunction, according to the
researchers. Many people fail to consistently take the
cholesterol-lowering medications, which can cause side effects such
as joint pain.
"This could be another reason to not stop the statin drugs, a kind of additional incremental benefit," said report lead author Dr. John Kostis, director of the Cardiovascular Institute of New Jersey at Rutgers University's Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. However, he cautioned that men with normal cholesterol levels shouldn't take statins, and should rely on existing drugs for erectile dysfunction if needed.
Statins, which include well-known medications such as Lipitor
and Zocor, are immensely popular in the United States. However,
about half of men who take the drugs stop them after a year or two,
The drugs reduce the levels of "bad" cholesterol in the blood,
potentially lowering the risk of heart attack.
The new report, a "meta-analysis," examines the results of 14
studies that explored the connections between statins and erectile
dysfunction. The investigators found that the drugs increased
so-called "erectile function" by about 25 percent, more than the
effect of testosterone treatment or changes in lifestyle including
weight loss and exercise.
However, statins appeared to improve erections by only about a
third or half as much as previously reported for impotency drugs
The typical amount of improvement that appears to be caused by
statins is "pretty minor," said Dr. Stephen Freedland, a urologist
and associate professor of surgery and pathology at the Duke
University School of Medicine. Men "may notice a little
improvement, but not a great amount."
Dr. Kevin McVary, chairman of urology at Southern Illinois
University School of Medicine, said the statins may improve
erectile dysfunction by preventing some damage to the layers of
cells in blood vessels. This damage can contribute to erectile
dysfunction, McVary said. However, he said it's also possible that
certain types of statins could actually worsen erection
What's next? Report lead author Kostis calls for more research
to compare statins to other treatments like testosterone
The study will be presented Saturday at the annual meeting of
the American College of Cardiology, held in Washington D.C., and
published online March 29 in the
Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Kostis disclosed that he has received consulting fees from
several drug companies. The study is funded by the Cardiovascular
Institute of New Jersey.
For more about erectile dysfunction, visit the
U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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