Coffee consumption could help reduce the incidence of erectile dysfunction, a new study has found. Men consuming as little as two cups a day worth of caffeine see a 40 percent reduction in the occurrence of ED, researchers determined.

A total of 3,724 men over the age of 20 were surveyed, as researchers asked about caffeine consumption and experiences with erectile dysfunction. Caffeine consumption was totaled from all sources, including coffee, tea and sodas.

Caffeine consumption of between 85 and 170 milligrams (mg) a day (roughly one cup of coffee) was found to reduce ED by 42 percent, while risk was reduced by 39 percent in those taking in 171 to 303 mg per day. A typical cup of brewed coffee contains roughly 140 mg of the stimulant, while instant coffee is typically measured to have around 100 mg per cup. Rates of ED were compared with men who reported consuming less than 7 milligrams of caffeine a day.

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by a number of factors, including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. However, not all cases of ED associated with these problems were relieved by the intake of the natural stimulant.

"Even though we saw a reduction in the prevalence of ED with men who were obese, overweight and hypertensive, that was not true of men with diabetes. Diabetes is one of the strongest risk factors for ED, so this was not surprising," David S. Lopez of the University of Texas said.

Caffeine appears to relax the cavernous smooth muscle and helicine arteries in the penis, allowing for greater blood flow to the organ, relieving the disorder.

"In the United States, 18.4 percent of men 20 years and older have ED, suggesting that more than 18 million men are affected. Caffeine is consumed by more than 85 percent of adults, according to previous research," Hannah Rhodes reported for the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Previous studies have suggested coffee could assist in reducing the rates of heart attacks, Type 2 diabetes, skin cancer and dementia. In addition to caffeine, the popular morning drink also contains antioxidants and a wide range of other chemicals that could affect human health.

Coffee was first grown in Ethiopia before travelers brought it to Arabia. It was in Turkey where the beans were first developed into a drink.

Data on caffeine intake and experiences with ED was collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, during computer-assisted interviews.

Study of the role of caffeine in reducing occurrences of erectile dysfunction was profiled in the journal PLOS One.

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