Studies address how plant-based diets impact men’s health issues

Studies address how plant-based diets impact men’s health issues

Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc. Sep 24 2021

This article is a repost which originally appeared on NEWS MEDICAL LIFE SCIENCES

Edited for content.

Three new studies by University of Miami Miller School of Medicine urologists address how consuming healthy plant-based diets impact a range of men’s health issues -; from diabetes to sexual health.

Plant-based diets is a hot topic in men’s health but one that many men dismiss for fear that eating less meat might negatively impact testosterone levels and sexual health.

Patients often ask about what they can do to keep prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels low or prevent prostate cancer.”

Mark L. Gonzalgo, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair, Urology, Miller School

Healthy plant-based diets are among the lifestyle changes that men are hearing and learning about for overall health. Consuming a healthy plant-based diet does not necessarily mean eliminating meat, rather it focuses on eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes and less animal protein, according to Dr. Gonzalgo.

Yet there remain misconceptions among men about plant-based diets, according to Ranjith Ramasamy, M.D., associate professor and director of the Miller School’s Reproductive Urology Program.

“Traditionally, men have thought that lots of protein, specifically animal protein, was necessary to maintain testosterone levels and indirectly related to maintaining erectile function,” Dr. Ramasamy said.

Miller School investigators conduced three studies, including two abstracts presented at the September 2021 American Urology Association annual meeting, suggesting plant-based diets may improve serum testosterone and erectile function.

Plant-based eating and PSA

Urology resident Ali Mouzannar, M.D., presented and was among the authors of “Impact of Plant-Based Diet on PSA Level: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES),” a study looking at the dietary habits of nearly 1,400 men with documented PSA levels in the NHANES database.

“PSA is a sensitive marker to prostate cancer. Patients with an elevated PSA require further evaluation with prostate biopsy to rule out cancer,” Dr. Mouzannar said.

Studying the impact of a plant-based diet on PSA levels is reasonable given what already is known about diets high in animal protein.

“Studies have shown that more aggressive prostate cancer can be associated with high meat intake. In addition, there is growing evidence that animal-based food has been associated with greenhouse emissions, and all-cause mortality risk., “Dr. Mouzannar said. “Several other publications suggest that fruits and vegetables may have protective effect against prostate cancer.”

Dr. Mouzannar and colleagues looked at men’s diets and PSA levels and found men consuming more fruits, vegetables and other healthy plant-based foods and less meat had lower PSA levels than men who consumed more meat or less healthy diets, including fruit juices, refined grains, potatoes, sugars, artificially sweetened beverages, and desserts.

More studies need to be conducted to determine if diet causes lower PSA levels, but in the meantime urologists and other can refer to the findings to answer patients’ questions.

“The important take-home message from this study is that it appears that adopting a plant-based diet may be associated with lower PSA levels and can certainly be incorporated into ways that patients can live healthier lifestyles,” said Dr. Gonzalgo, who also is a study author.

Other Miller School authors on the study are urology resident Manish Kuchakulla, M.D.; urology resident Ruben Blachman Braun, M.D., M.Sc.; medical student Sirpi Nackeeran; urology resident Maria Becerra, M.D.; Assistant Professor Bruno Nahar, M.D.; Associate Professor of Urology Oncology Sanoj Punnen, M.D.; Associate Professor of Urology Oncology Chad Ritch, M.D., M.B.A.; and Professor and Chair of Urology Dipen Parekh, M.D.

No ED, testosterone links

Contrary to the belief that eating more animal protein improves erectile function and testosterone levels in men, Miller School investigators found no impact on testosterone levels from a healthy plant-based diet and a positive impact from eating more plant-based foods and animal protein on erectile function, according to Miller School urology resident Ruben Blachman-Braun, M.D., M.Sc., who presented and authored “Plant-based diets are associated with decreased risk of erectile dysfunction.”

Dr. Blachman-Braun and colleagues studied nearly 2,550 men in the NHANES database.

“Of those, there were 1,085 with some degree of erectile dysfunction and after performing an analysis we showed that increased plant-based diet consumption is associated with decreased risk of erectile dysfunction,” Dr. Blachman-Braun said. “This does not mean that eating a plant-based diet improves erections. However, it shows that eating a plant-based diet does not negatively affect erections and having a healthier lifestyle with increased dietary plant-based consumption can potentially lead to having better erections.”

Other authors on this study are medical student Eliyahu Kresch; medical student Sirpi Nackeeran; Manish Kuchakulla and Dr. Ramasamy.

In yet another study published earlier this year in the World Journal of Urology, Dr. Ramasamy and coauthors analyzed health and diet information from 191 participants of the NHANES database. Plant-based diet index, or the amount of plant-based foods in men’s diets, did not predict and had no impact on serum testosterone levels.

Coauthors on this study were Manish Kuchakulla, Sirpi Nackeeran and Ruben Blachman-Braun.

The two studies presented at AUA were featured in its press release, putting a spotlight on the topic’s relevance, according to Dr. Ramasamy.

“We are on the cusp of figuring out how healthy living with decreased animal protein and more of a plant-based diet with more vegetables and fruits is not just better for your heart but also good for men’s health conditions, including sex life and testosterone levels,” Dr. Ramasamy said.


University of Miami

Journal reference:

Mouzannar, A., et al. (2021) PD65-08 Impact Of Plant-Based Diet On Psa Level: Data From The National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey. Journal of Urology.

Male Sexual Worries: Trends in the Post-Viagra Age

Male Sexual Worries: Trends in the Post-Viagra Age

This article is a repost which originally appeared on SciTechDaily

Edited for content

Trends in reasons for visiting a the San Raffaele sexual health clinic. Credit: This diagram appears with the permission of the authors and the International Journal of Impotence Research. The EAU thanks the authors, and the journal for their cooperation.

Scientists report a change in why men seek help for sexual problems, with fewer men complaining about impotence (erectile dysfunction) and premature ejaculation, and more men, especially younger men, complaining about low sexual desire and curvature of the penis (Peyronie’s disease).

Presenting the work at the European Association of Urology (virtual) Congress, after recent acceptance for publication, research leader Dr. Paolo Capogrosso (San Raffaele Hospital, Milan, Italy) said:

“Over a 10 year period we have seen a real change in what concerns men when they attend sexual health clinics. This is probably driven by greater openness, and men now accepting that many sexual problems can be treated, rather than being something they don’t want to talk about.”

The success of erectile dysfunction treatments such as Viagra and Cialis, and the availability of new treatments, means that men facing sexual problems have now have treatments for sexual problems which weren’t available a generation ago. Now researchers at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan have studied why men come to sexual health clinics, and how this has changed over a 10-year period.

In what is believed to be the first research of its kind, the scientists questioned 3244 male visitors to the San Raffaele Hospital Sexual Health Clinic in Milan over a 10 year period (2009 to 2019), and classified the main reason for the visit. They found that the number of patients visiting with erectile dysfunction problems increased from 2009 to 2013, then started to decrease.

There were comparatively few patients complaining of low sex drive or Peyronie’s disease in 2009, but complaints about both of these conditions grow from 2009 to the end of the study. In 2019 men were around 30% more likely to report Peyronie’s disease than in 2009, and around 32% more likely to report low sexual desire.

The amount of men complaining of premature ejaculation dropped by around 6% over the 10-year period. The average age of first attendance at the clinical also dropped, from a mean of 61 to 53 years.

“Erectile dysfunction is still the main reason for attending the clinic, but this number is dropping, whereas around 35% of men attending the clinic now complain of Peyronie’s disease, and that number has shown steady growth,” said Paolo Capogrosso. “Our patients are also getting younger, which may reflect a generational change in attitude to sexual problems.”

Dr. Capogrosso continued “We need to be clear about what these figures mean. They do not indicate any change in the prevalence of these conditions, what they show is why men came to the clinic. In other words, it shows what they are concerned about. The changes probably also reflect the availability of treatments; as treatments for sexual conditions have become available over the last few years, men are less likely to suffer in silence.”

These are results from a single centre, so they need to be confirmed by more inclusive studies. “Nevertheless there seems to be a growing awareness of conditions such as Peyronie’s disease, with articles appearing in the popular press*. In addition, we know that the awareness of this condition is increasing in the USA and elsewhere, so this may be a general trend,**” said Dr. Capogrosso.

Commenting, Dr Mikkel Fode (Associate Professor of Urology at University of Copenhagen), said:

“Although these data are somewhat preliminary as they stem from single institution they are interesting because they allow us to formulate several hypotheses. For example the drop in men presenting with erectile dysfunction may mean that family physicians are becoming more comfortable addressing this issue and that the patients are never referred to specialized centers. Likewise, the simultaneous drop in age at presentation and increase in Peyronie’s disease and low sex drive could indicate that both men and their partners are becoming more mindful to optimizing their sex lives. I will be very interesting to see if these trends are also present in other centers around the world.”

Dr. Fode was not involved in this work, this is an independent comment.


* “Trends in reported male sexual dysfunction over the past decade: an evolving landscape” by Edoardo Pozzi, Paolo Capogrosso, Luca Boeri, Walter Cazzaniga, Rayan Matloob, Eugenio Ventimiglia, Davide Oreggia, Nicolò Schifano, Luigi Candela, Costantino Abbate, Francesco Montorsi and Andrea Salonia, 1 July 2020, International Journal of Impotence Research.

** “The Prevalence of Peyronie’s Disease in the United States: A Population-Based Study” by Mark Stuntz, Anna Perlaky, Franka des Vignes, Tassos Kyriakides and Dan Glass, 23 February 2016, PLOS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150157
PMCID: PMC4764365