Early-Onset Dementia May Be Linked to Vasectomy

Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered a link between vasectomy surgery and a form of dementia that usually strikes men in their 40's and 50's.

Known as Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA), the disease targets the language center of the brain, causing victims to have difficulty remembering and understanding words. People afflicted with PPA lose the ability to talk and understand speech, and gradually deteriorate in other areas of function until they are fully incapacitated.

Lead researcher Dr. Sandra Weintraub, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and or neurology at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, discovered a potential link between the disease and vasectomy surgery during a regular support meeting for PPA patients. One man who had developed language problems at age 43 referenced the start of his difficulty to the period following his surgery for vasectomy. He asked the nine men in the group who were suffering from PPA how many had undergone a vasectomy, and eight of the nine said they had.

Weintraub led a team of researchers who surveyed 47 men aged 55 to 80 with language-based dementia and found that 40% had undergone vasectomies, compared to 16% of the control group who did not have cognitive impairment.

"That's a huge difference," Weintraub said. "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."

Men who had a vasectomy and developed the disease showed symptoms at a younger age (58 years) than men who developed PPA without having the surgery (62 years).

A second form of early-onset dementia also seemed to be linked to vasectomy surgery, the study found, with preliminary results showing 37% ercent of men with frontotemporal dementia had undergone a vasectomy. The results were taken from a small group of 30 men and require further research to confirm a link.

Weintraub speculated that the disease may be triggered in part by antibodies formed in the blood of men who have vasectomies — during surgery the natural barrier designed to keep blood-born pathogens away from semen is breached, and sperm can enter the blood system. In 60 to 70% of cases, the body will react to the sperm as invasive and produce antibodies against it, which may then breach the blood-brain barrier and lead to the onset of PPA.

Weintraub plans to launch a national study to show if her preliminary results will be consistent in a larger population.

In a study released last June, a team of Thai researchers found a rate of severe chromosomal abnormality 10 times higher than normal in sperm taken from men with vasectomies. Sperm production continues after the surgery, leading to a build up of old, disintegrating sperm within the epididymus. Scarring and occasional rupture of the epididymus frequently occur, with further sperm breakdown.

While chromosomal abnormality rates did improve somewhat over time when the man under went a vasectomy reversal, researchers found chromosomal malformation rates remained abnormally high.

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  • Guest March 2, 2007, 11:07 am

    Too much thinking with the little head? Surprised

    GK – God is good!

  • Guest March 2, 2007, 2:27 pm

    Have you lost your marbles?

  • Guest March 2, 2007, 2:59 pm

    I don't remember. Embarassed


    GK – God is good!

  • Guest March 2, 2007, 7:58 pm

    You guys, cut it out!

    Ok, now doesn't this show that the Church is right in more than one way about this?

  • Guest March 3, 2007, 8:04 am

    The link I'm waiting to see is between vasectomies and prostate cancer. Vasectomies are very prevelant in my siblings and my husband's; of eleven men, eight  have prostate cancer. The three without (my husband included) have never been neutered.

    This is propably a study that would never be published, or at least made public, just like the Abortion/Breast Cancer link.

  • Guest March 3, 2007, 9:21 am

    Back in the 1960's a Priest said that the sperm has to go somewhere than normal, and the men become alergic to their own sperm and it will

    cause trouble down the line. So here is the trouble. How come the Church is right on many things? Figure it out.

  • Guest March 3, 2007, 12:08 pm

    God loves you .

    To save a wife who never asked thus to be saved, but at the urging of most of her physicians, I was (as I now well know) self-mutilated in vasectomy. In looking into reversal, I had been all too well mutilated. Expensive microsurgery wasn’t given much odds of success.

    It did not save my wife. It left my daughter without the natural ally(-ies) of sibling(s). How generally I failed ‘us’ and me, and God, is a story no one else should repeat.

    Now – I am growing old, and quickly. My senses are clearly receding from me. My hearing is worst, but all of me shrinks from their old jobs. My knees are wobbly and my balance is – uh – unbalanced.

    What I have left is my curiosity-driven, frantically learning and delightfully knowing mind . . . of signal mark of the masterpiece of me out of God’s hands, and of nothing but His love.

    And, now, by God’s truth in His natural, eternal justice in the order of His will – I may lose the one thing that has me still feeling as if I am ‘still here’ – not ‘all here’, but here.

    Pray for mercy from our beloved and loving God for such as me . . .

    . . . and know that with my last awareness, if it comes to that, I will still know of His mercy and forgiveness for my failing before our God Who is never less than beloved and loving. THAT knowledge is of His mercy, praised be our Lord.

    Remember, I love you, too

    Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest March 3, 2007, 12:35 pm

    I apologize to the earlier remark.  Humor is the alternative to melancholy. But it is just so ironic that our culture is beginning to reap the bitter fruits of sorrow from the prideful seeds sown in this generation.

    I'm speaking as a culture and a generation here, PS, not as  individuals, although, of course we also sin and suffer individually.

    But when part of the body suffers, we all suffer.  You continue to be in my prayers, brother.


    "If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion." ~ St. Maximilian Kolbe

  • Guest March 3, 2007, 1:21 pm

    God loves you .

    C’mon, PTR! To those who consider such as self-mutilating vasectomy a ‘tragi-comedy of error’ – why not chuckle at the foolishness of the fools – me! – who fall for it? And, of the thought that such men as I have made myself are ‘neutered’? I call myself ‘fixed’ all the time in scorn of my error.

    And, GK, I was not thinking with that ‘wrong-headed wrong head’, but failing to consult God and through my wife about my decision. I thought with my wrong-directed heart – about saving my wife as mother to our daughter. I weep for my failure, even as I know that as ‘my Redeemer liveth’; yet He saved my wife and works with all stops removed to save me.

    Vasectomy IS foolishness; sometimes, foolishness requires mockery, even unto a humorous feel about it. 😉 Is it not to laugh in Satan’s face? It no way lessens your compassion for the sad fools, to laugh at the foolishness; your scorn for that sin need not condemn the sinner. In your compassion, you pray and offer your condoling spirit. Of you and the CE roundtable members, I know that . . .

    None have offended me in any way. I beat upon myself daily over my error. Over thirty years now – over half my life – and God knows that it is good that I so hammer at myself about my sin, that He can thus give me His graces of His mercy . . .

    Yet – perhaps there is a limit to His merciful gentleness, for which none of us can blame Him. Would it not be of His exquisite ways to leave me but two faculties? “You know, he passes his Rosary and murmurs just as if he is saying it! And, when the priest comes with Communion, he just beams, says ‘Amen’ and opens his mouth!” That God grants me the grace of being prayerful witness to Him, and testimony of the love between Him and me, would be enough to see me through . . .

    Remember, I love you, too

    Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest March 5, 2007, 3:51 pm

    If my sins hurt me as much as they hurt my savior, I'd be like Monty Python's foolish black knight.  Yet, I can't remember why I have committed some of them.  Maybe that is the problem.  Is it possible to have a vasectemy and still have children?  I feel as if I deserve neither children, nor the thoughts that God gives me.

    I love you Pristinus and PTR.  May you continue to love as wonderfully as you do.



    I imagine prostate cancer will be tied to vasectamies.  I myself was suprised to see them tied (or snipped, as one would have it) to what do you call it … oh bother … I forget, instead of prostate cancer.


    GK – God is good!