Effects of LUTS similar to those of severe diseases

June 1, 2006

Atlanta-Epidemiologic studies have a tendency to raise as many questions as they answer. A large study emanating from the Watertown, MA-based New England Research Institutes (NERI), an independent research organization, is an example.

Atlanta-Epidemiologic studies have a tendency to raise as many questions as they answer. A large study emanating from the Watertown, MA-based New England Research Institutes (NERI), an independent research organization, is an example.

The study, presented here at the AUA annual meeting, combined data from the Boston Area Community Health (BACH) survey and UrEpik, a four-nation European study group, to find that lower urinary tract symptoms can have as great an impact on a man's mental and physical quality of life as do diseases considered to be more severe.

"The effect of moderate LUTS-that is, LUTS that generates an international prostate symptom score [IPSS] of 8-is similar to the effects of diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer on the physical health component score. Severe LUTS, an IPSS score of 20 or higher, has an effect that is similar to that of a heart attack or stroke on the physical health component score," Carol Link, PhD, senior research scientist at NERI, told Urology Times.

"It appears that LUTS is regarded as less troublesome in Seoul. We have no explanation for that," Dr. Link conceded.

The study noted that a 10-point increase in IPSS corresponded with a 3.4-point reduction on the SF12 mental component in the four Western cities, but only a 1.4-point drop in Seoul.

"It may be that the drop was smaller because the mental health component scores for Seoul were lower to begin with," Dr. Link said.

Comparing comorbidities

Although the study was not specifically directed to detect the incidence of varied diseases, it nevertheless produced some interesting results in that realm. Age-standardized prevalences of various comorbidities were compared.

Boston is not as healthy as the other cities, according to the data. It has a higher prevalence of self-reported diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and cancer than the other four cities studied. Boxmeer and Birmingham had higher prevalence of heart attacks compared to Seoul and Auxerre. Birmingham has a slightly higher prevalence of stroke and LUTS, according to the study, but that prevalence is not significantly different from that of Boston.

Boston is also fatter. One-third of its male residents age 40 to 79 years had a body mass index of 30 or higher. Less than 1% of the men in Seoul, had such weight problems compared with 9% to 14% of men in the other three cities, but Seoul had more current smokers (54%) than did the Western cities (25% to 28%).

The NERI study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Disease, and the earlier UrEpik study was funded by an educational grant from GlaxoSmithKline.