This week, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)—a coalition of 12,000 doctors—filed a citizen petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to urge the government agency to label erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs such as Viagra and Cialis with a statement that informs users about the role of diet in penile function. ED affects 18 million to 30 million men in the United States and PCRM, supported by scientific research, links the disorder to poor cardiovascular health—which can be improved by following a whole foods plant-based diet. PCRM urged the FDA to include a notice on ED drugs that states:

“Erectile dysfunction is caused by artery disease, a condition that this drug will not improve. Artery disease can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and early death. A plant-based diet, moderate exercise, stress management, and lack of smoking can, in combination, improve and often reverse artery disease.”

PCRM cited several scientific studies to support the links between maintaining heart health—and therefore optimal penile function— and a plant-based diet, including a 2016 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study observed 25,096 men during the span of 10 years and found that a diet high in fruit reduced erectile dysfunction by 14 percent. “A prescription for Viagra should include a lifesaving wake-up call for men with ED to adopt a heart-healthy diet,” PCRM President Neal Barnard, MD, FACC, said. “Erectile dysfunction is a sign of narrowed arteries throughout a man’s body, including the arteries to his heart and brain, putting him at high risk for heart attack, stroke, and death.”

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