High Rate of Dementia Found in Men Who Had Vasectomies; Researcher Says Procedure May Be a 'Risk Factor'

Article excerpt

Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Men may want to think twice about having a vasectomy.

A Northwestern University researcher announced yesterday there is a possible link between the procedure and two unusual forms of dementia that cause men to lose their ability to understand words and exhibit bizarre behaviors including compulsive gambling and shoplifting.

Symptoms of the two neurological diseases are distressing. Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) causes people to have trouble understanding speech and expressing themselves while frontotemporal dementia (FTD) prompts personality changes, lack of judgment and irrational actions.

One sufferer in the study, for example, was found by his sons on the floor of a restaurant men's room doing push-ups.

Evidence linking vasectomies with PPA and FTD began on a small scale, but grew in scope.

Sandra Weintraub, principal investigator and a professor of psychology at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, took note when a patient said he began having problems with words and language right after his vasectomy at age 43.

It prompted her to investigate a possible correlation. During a review of nine men suffering from PPA, Ms. Weintraub discovered that eight of them had had vasectomies. A larger study of almost 50 men with PPA revealed that 40 percent had had vasectomies.

"It doesn't mean having a vasectomy will give you this disease, but it may be a risk factor to increase your chance of getting it," Ms. Weintraub said. …