Study Reveals Presence Of Microplastics In Penile Tissue, Raises Health Concerns

Study Reveals Presence Of Microplastics In Penile Tissue, Raises Health Concerns

Microplastics find their way into the human body by eating, drinking, and breathing, and tiny particles have been detected in the blood as well.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Thursday, June 20, 2024, 03:59 PM IST
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Mumbai: Microplastics have been discovered in penises for the first time, raising questions about a potential role in erectile dysfunction, reports The Guardian newspaper of the UK and Nature, a multidisciplinary science journal. Both quoted a recent study elaborated in the IJIR: Your Sexual Medicine Journal.

About The Study

It quoted a study that analysed tissue samples taken from five men who were undergoing surgery for an inflatable penile prosthesis, which is a treatment option for men with severe erectile dysfunction. The microplastics detected ranged in size from 0.5mm down to 0.002mm.

Researchers said the penis could be particularly vulnerable to contamination with microplastics due to high blood flow during erections.

Microplastics find their way into the human body by eating, drinking, and breathing, and tiny particles have been detected in the blood as well. Microplastics were found in the blood for the first time in 2022.

A study published in March this year found patients with microplastics in their blood vessels were more likely to suffer stroke, heart attack, or early death.

In this study, microplastics were found in four cases, with PET and polypropylene being the most prevalent, both used in food and drink packaging. Millions of tonnes of plastic waste are dumped in the environment every year and much is broken down into microplastics. These have polluted the entire planet.

Statement Of Dr Ranjith Ramasamy

Dr Ranjith Ramasamy, who led the new research while at the University of Miami in the US, was quoted as saying, “The penis is a vascular, spongy organ; so, it is definitely vulnerable. We know erectile dysfunction is multifactorial. You need good hormones, nerves, blood supply, and good smooth muscle tissue for an erection to happen. We found that microplastics were present in the smooth muscle of the penis. All we know is that they are not supposed to be there, and we suspect that it could lead to smooth muscle dysfunction.”

Ramasamy said, “We’ve moved past whether we have microplastics in us, to whether there is a level of microplastics beyond which things become pathologic.”

Ramasamy said, “As a society, we need to be cognizant that drinking water from plastic water bottles, getting takeout food in plastic containers, and even worse, microwaving food in plastic containers, are contributing to having things in our body that should not be there. And the penis is the one organ that everybody will pay attention to.”

Dr Ranjith Ramasamy told Sky News that more studies are needed to investigate if microplastics cause erectile dysfunction.

"Since we know it lingers in the penis, we need to now focus on research that could explain the mechanism," he said.

"We were not surprised by the findings because of previous studies demonstrating the presence of microplastics in the heart and blood vessels."

The research was authored by experts from the University of Miami, University of Colorado, San Rafaele University in Milan, and the German research institute Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon.

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