Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Impact of type 2 diabetes on lower urinary tract symptoms in men: a cohort study

Stephen K Van Den Eeden1*, Assiamira Ferrara1, Jun Shan1, Steven J Jacobsen2, Virginia P Quinn2, Reina Haque2 and Charles P Quesenberry1

Author affiliations

1 Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, 2000 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612, USA

2 Research and Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Pasadena, CA, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Urology 2013, 13:12  doi:10.1186/1471-2490-13-12

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Received:29 September 2012
Accepted:8 February 2013
Published:20 February 2013

© 2013 Van Den Eeden et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



Studies of the impact of type 2 diabetes on the prevalence and incidence of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) among men have provided divergent results. We sought to examine this issue using two large and diverse cohorts.


This study used questionnaire and clinical data from two large multiethnic cohorts, the California Men’s Health Study (CMHS) and Research Program in Genes, Environment and Health (RPGEH). Diabetes characteristics data were derived from questionnaire and Diabetes Registry data. LUTS were measured using a standardized scale. Socioeconomic and comorbidity data were obtained by self-report.

Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association between baseline DM status and prevalence and incidence of LUTS, with adjustment for potential confounding variables.


We found type 2 diabetes to be associated with prevalent LUTS (odds ratio (OR) = 1.32, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.26, 1.38). The association was stronger among men with type 2 diabetes who were on active pharmaceutical treatment and had it for a longer duration. No association was observed between type 2 diabetes and new onset LUTS.


Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of LUTS.

Lower urinary tract symptoms; Men; Diabetes; Epidemiology; Cohort study


Type 2 diabetes mellitus, lower urinary tract symptoms and benign prostatic hyperplasia are all common disorders that affect men as they age. It is well known that diabetes can negatively impact the bladder and is manifested in later stages as diabetic cystopathy [1,2]. It is less clear, however, how diabetes affects the more common lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) of the aging male [2,3].

Early studies reported that diabetes was associated with surgery for enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) [3,4]. As recently reviewed by Sarma and Parsons [3], most studies determined that type 2 diabetes is associated with a 10-200% increase in the risk of LUTS. However, these studies were quite variable in the way they defined LUTS; for example, the definitions frequently included various markers of BPH, such as medical treatment or surgery. In contrast, other studies have not found type 2 diabetes to be associated with LUTS or BPH [5].

The current study sought to examine the association between type 2 diabetes and LUTS using two large cohorts in which all participants completed a questionnaire that included a standardized assessment of LUTS, the American Urological Association Symptom Index (AUASI) [6].


Participants of the California Men’s Health Study (CMHS) and male subjects of the Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health (RPGEH) cohorts formed the study population for this study. Both cohorts were recruited from the membership of Kaiser Permanente in California.

Details of the CMHS have been previously published [7]. Briefly, CMHS baseline data were collected between 2001–2002 on 84,170 men, aged 45 to 69 years as of 1/1/ 2001, who were members of Kaiser Permanente Northern or Southern California regions. A second questionnaire that included the AUASI was administered to the CMHS participants in 2007–2008. Details on the study of LUTS within the RPGEH cohort have been previously published [8]. The RPGEH includes a cohort with baseline data obtained in 2007–2008 on 140,139 men who were adult members of Kaiser Permanente Northern California for at least two years prior to the survey. Data were available for 78,273 CMHS and 106,373 RPGEH men after exclusions for prevalent prostate cancer or missing data. For the analysis related to new onset or incident LUTS, only the 63,245 CMHS men who completed the second assessment and did not have prostate cancer at baseline or after follow-up were included. Informed consent was obtained for the CMHS participants through an information sheet that accompanied the survey and voluntary response. Written informed consent was obtained for the RPGEH participants.

Questionnaire data included race/ethnicity, marital status, birthplace, height, weight, diabetes status, comorbidity (e.g., cardiovascular disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, etc.), smoking, alcohol use and physical activity. Physical activity was categorized as minimal, moderate or strenuous based on type of activity and frequency, and consistent with recommendations in a NIH consensus statement on physical activity [9]. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated as weight in kilograms/height in meters2 and included in the analyses as an indicator variable with three categories (i.e., <25, 25- < 30, 30+).

Data on LUTS were obtained using the standardized American Urological Association Symptom Index (AUASI) [6] with measurement at baseline for both cohorts and at the follow-up assessment for the CMHS. The AUASI is scored on a 0–35 scale based on seven questions. These data were categorized as no or mild (AUASI score of 0–7); moderate (AUASI 8–19); or severe LUTS (AUASI ≥20). For some analyses, the moderate and severe categories were combined. Incident LUTS was examined only among men with no prostate cancer at baseline or in the follow-up period, who did not undergo BPH treatment before baseline and had an AUASI in the no or mild category (i.e., ≤7). Men were classified as having incident LUTS if they met any of the following criteria: AUASI score increased from ≤7 to 8 or more at the second assessment or underwent treatment for BPH. The latter criterion included selected drug use (e.g., α-blockers or 5-α-reductase inhibitors), undergoing surgery (e.g., a transurethral prostatectomy), or other minimally invasive procedures (e.g., transurethral microwave thermotherapy or transurethral needle ablation).

For analyses that examined diabetes characteristics, the analyses was limited to the Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) subcohort for linkage to the KPNC Diabetes Registry [10-13].

Statistical analysis

We first calculated the prevalence of LUTS at baseline by dividing the number of ‘cases’ by the appropriate denominator at the baseline and expressed this percentage by age and diabetes status.

Because many conditions potentially associated with LUTS also tend to vary by diabetes status, we analyzed the data using logistic regression models to obtain odds ratios for LUTS associated with type 2 diabetes adjusted for covariates that may confound that association. We combined moderate and severe LUTS in our analyses. Our analysis adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, physical activity, smoking and BMI. Other factors, such as marital status, and alcohol use, were initially considered but there was no evidence that they were confounding the effect estimates and were therefore not included in regression models. Factors that are known to be a consequence of having type 2 diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease and hyperlipidemia, were not included in our primary analyses. In the combined cohort analyses we also included an indicator variable for cohort. Statistical tests of the regression coefficients were based on the likelihood ratio test and Wald 95% confidence intervals were calculated for each odds ratio.

The study was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Boards of Kaiser Permanente Northern and Southern California.


Except for the age distribution, men were similar in both cohorts with regard to demographic, socioeconomic and comorbid diseases (Table  1). A total of 24,586 or 13.3% had a history of type 2 diabetes. Approximately half of the combined cohorts reported moderate or severe LUTS. Overall, about 13% of the combined cohort members reported fair or poor health. On average, the cohorts were reasonably well educated with just over half having at least some college level courses.

Table 1. Selected demographic, socioeconomic, lifestyle and medical characteristics of men in the California men's health study and research program in Genes, environment and health Cohorts

The prevalence of men with moderate or severe LUTS increased with age in both cohorts and among men with and without type 2 diabetes (Table  2). While the age specific prevalence was slightly higher among the RPGEH men compared to CMHS men with or without type 2 diabetes, the prevalence was higher among men with type 2 diabetes in all age categories in both cohorts. The severity of LUTS was also increased with age.

Table 2. Baseline prevalence of diabetes* and LUTS† by age by cohort

In multivariable models (Table  3), men with type 2 diabetes had higher odds of moderate LUTS than men without this condition (OR = 1.32, 95% CI 1.26-1.38). When men with type 2 diabetes were further classified by treatment status, use of oral antihyperglycemia agents or insulin was associated with an increased odds of LUTS than men without type 2 diabetes. Longer duration of type 2 diabetes was associated with an increased odds of LUTS, although men with shorter duration of type 2 diabetes had a higher odds relative to men without type 2 diabetes. These trends were also apparent when analyses were restricted to the men with type 2 diabetes (data not shown).

Table 3. Risk of prevalent lower urinary tract symptoms by diabetes characteristics, CMHS and RPGEH Cohorts, Kaiser Permanente

Finally, in the CMHS cohort, type 2 diabetes at baseline questionnaire was associated with a 7% increased odds of LUTS progression (OR = 1.07, 95% CI 0.95, 1.02), as determined by increasing AUASI score or having received treatment for BPH/LUTS after baseline (Table  4). Again, the confidence interval included the null and therefore the data are consistent with no association between DM and LUTS incidence. We did not see an increase in the odds of LUTS with markers of disease severity such as medication use or duration.

Table 4. Risk of new onset lower urinary tract symptoms by diabetes characteristics, CMHS Cohort, Kaiser Permanente


We found clear associations between type 2 diabetes and prevalent lower urinary tract symptoms. Men with type 2 diabetes reported higher AUASI scores in each age group in both cohorts studied. Men with type 2 diabetes were 32% more likely to report LUTS compared to men without type 2 diabetes. The association was stronger with indicators of poorer type 2 diabetes status (e.g., more intensive medical management or duration). In contrast, we found that type 2 diabetes had little if any impact on the risk of developing new LUTS.

The earliest studies of diabetes and LUTS found an association between diabetes and surgery for BPH [4,14,15]. However, surgery for BPH as an endpoint represents a pathway that includes severity of LUTS, the presence of comorbidities that represent surgical contraindications, healthcare access and other concerns. More recent studies have used a mixed definition of BPH that included BPH surgery, symptoms or results of a digital rectal exam [16-19]. These studies have all found associations that consistently point to diabetes affecting voiding function. However, they have not clearly sorted out the underlying mechanism – i.e., dysfunction due to an increase in obstruction secondary to BPH or bladder dysfunction secondary to microvascular and neuropathic effects related to diabetes. However, the evidence of diabetes effect on obstruction is mixed and primarily limited to examination of prostate volume. Sarma et al. [20] found no association between diabetes and prostate volume. Interestingly, they reported a stronger association for irritative LUTS compared to obstructive LUTS. Also relevant to this discussion, Burke et al. [21], using the Olmsted County Study (OCS) data, reported that diabetes was associated with the progression of LUTS, but was not associated with an increase in prostate volume or PSA level. In contrast to our study, Sarma et al. [22], using the same OCS population and the Flint Men’s Health Study, found no association between diabetes medication treatment and progression of LUTS. They did report that the association between diabetes and LUTS seemed to be stronger for irritative symptoms compared to obstructive symptoms. However, the study was limited in that only 101 of the men had diabetes in their analysis. However, other, smaller studies, suggest that diabetes may be related to prostate growth [23]. While another larger study reported fasting glucose to be associated with increased prostate volume, there was an irregular dose–response pattern across quartiles of fasting glucose which limits the interpretation of those data [18]. Nonetheless, these data taken together suggest a bigger impact of diabetes on voiding symptoms unrelated to obstruction, such as the bladder.

It may be that diabetes also adversely affects voiding in combination with other health issues. Kupelian et al. reported an association between metabolic syndrome and LUTS [24]. However, data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) did not find diabetes or most markers of glucose metabolism (or metabolic syndrome) associated with selected lower urinary tract symptoms; unfortunately NHANES did not include a standardized assessment of LUTS [5]. In this study, however, glycosylated hemoglobin was associated with increased prevalence of lower urinary tract symptoms. A study from Austria also failed to find metabolic syndrome (as well as fasting glucose) to be associated with LUTS [25]. In a follow-up of men with type 1 diabetes who were participants in the DCCT/EDIC study, no association between glycosylated hemoglobin (or other markers of disease severity) and LUTS was observed [26].

The relationship between diabetes and progression of LUTS is complicated by possibly multiple changes over time. If diabetes does not increase the prostate volume it may result in a leveling off LUTS in men where obstruction is contributing. However, if diabetes impacts the bladder through vascular and neuropathic mechanisms, it may increase LUTS. Our data on progression do not point to a clear explanation as to which of these mechanisms are operating. The lack of an association with progression in our data may be due to issues related to measurement of progression or a relatively short follow-up.


We found a clear association between diabetes and prevalent LUTS but no association with new onset LUTS.


LUTS: Lower urinary tract symptoms; BPH: Benign prostatic hyperplasia; AUASI: American Urological Association Symptom Index; CMHS: California Men’s Health Study; RPGEH: Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health; BMI: Body mass index; KPNC: Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

Competing interests

Stephen Van Den Eeden has received salary support from research grants from the National Institutes of Health, GlaxoSmithKline and Takada for studies unrelated to this paper. Assiamira Ferrara has received salary support or research grants from the National Institutes of Health, GlaxoSmithKline, sanofi-aventis and Takada for studies unrelated to this paper. Steven Jacobsen has received research support from the National Institutes of Health and Merck for studies unrelated to this paper. Charles Quesenberry has received salary support or research grants from the National Institutes of Health, GlaxoSmithKline, sanofi-aventis and Takada for studies unrelated to this paper. Jun Shan declares there are no competing interests. Virginia Quinn declares there are no competing interests. Reina Haque declares there are no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

SKV designed, helped acquire the data, conducted the analysis, drafted the manuscript and gave final approval to be published. AF helped acquire the data, critically revised the manuscript and gave final approval to be published. JS conducted the analysis, critically revised the manuscript and gave final approval to be published. SJJ critically revised the manuscript and gave final approval to be published. VQ helped acquire the data, critically revised the manuscript and gave final approval to be published. RH critically revised the manuscript and gave final approval to be published. CPQ helped acquire the data, conduct the analysis, critically revised the manuscript and gave final approval to be published. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Authors’ information

Dr. Van Den Eeden is a Research Scientist at the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, a Professor in the Department of Urology at UCSF and a Lecturer in Epidemiology at Stanford University.


Original cohort funding obtained from the California Cancer Research Program, The Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation, and the Kaiser Permanente Community Benefits Program. Study funding from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive Diseases and Kidney through the Urologic Diseases in America Project at UCLA. We thank the men who have generously participated in California Men’s Health Study and the Research Program in Genes, Environment and Health. Dr. Van Den Eeden is the guarantor of this work and, as such, had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.


  1. Brown JB, Wessells H, Chancellor MB, Stamm WE, Stapleton AE, Steers WD, Van Den Eeden SK, McVary KT: Urologic outcomes in diabetes.

    Diabetes Care 2005, 28(1):177-185. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  2. Sasaki K, Yoshimura N, Chancellor MB: Implications of diabetes mellitus in urology.

    UrolClinNorth Am 2003, 30(1):1-12. OpenURL

  3. Sarma AV, Kellogg PJ: Diabetes and benign prostatic hyperplasia: emerging clinical connections.

    CurrUrolRep 2009, 10(4):267-275. OpenURL

  4. Sidney S, Quesenberry CP Jr, Sadler MC, Guess HA, Lydick EG, Cattolica EV: Incidence of surgically treated benign prostatic hypertrophy and of prostate cancer among blacks and whites in a prepaid health care plan.

    Am J Epidemiol 1991, 134:825-829. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  5. Rohrmann S, Smit E, Giovannucci E, Platz EA: Association between markers of the metabolic syndrome and lower urinary tract symptoms in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III).

    IntJObes(Lond) 2005, 29(3):310-316. OpenURL

  6. Barry MJ, Fowler FJ Jr, O'Leary MP, Bruskewitz RC, Holtgrewe HL, Mebust WK, Cockett AT: The American Urological association Symptom index for benign prostatic Hyperplasia. The measurement committee of the American Urological association.

    JUrol 1992, 148(5):1549-1557. OpenURL

  7. Enger SM, Van Den Eeden SK, Sternfeld B, Loo RK, Quesenberry CP Jr, Rowell S, Sadler MC, Schaffer DM, Habel LA, Caan BJ: California Men's Health Study (CMHS): a multiethnic cohort in a managed care setting.

    BMCPublic Health 2006, 6:172. OpenURL

  8. Van Den Eeden SK, Shan J, Jacobsen SJ, Aaronsen D, Haque R, Quinn VP, Quesenberry CP Jr: Evaluating racial/ethnic disparities in lower urinary tract symptoms in men.

    J Urol 2012, 187(1):185-189. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  9. Health NCDPPAC: Physical activity and cardiovascular health. NIH Consensus Development Panel on Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health.

    JAMA 1996, 276(3):241-246. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  10. Ferrara A, Karter AJ, Ackerson LM, Liu JY, Selby JV: Hormone replacement therapy is associated with better glycemic control in women with type 2 diabetes: The Northern California Kaiser Permanente Diabetes Registry.

    Diabetes Care 2001, 24(7):1144-1150. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  11. Karter AJ, Ackerson LM, Darbinian JA, D'Agostino RB Jr, Ferrara A, Liu J, Selby JV: Self-monitoring of blood glucose levels and glycemic control: the Northern California Kaiser Permanente Diabetes registry.

    AmJMed 2001, 111(1):1-9. OpenURL

  12. Karter AJ, Ferrara A, Liu JY, Moffet HH, Ackerson LM, Selby JV: Ethnic disparities in diabetic complications in an insured population.

    JAMA 2002, 287(19):2519-2527. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  13. Selby JV, Ettinger B, Swain BE, Brown JB: First 20 months' experience with use of metformin for type 2 diabetes in a large health maintenance organization.

    Diabetes Care 1999, 22(1):38-44. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  14. Bourke JB, Griffin JP: Diabetes mellitus in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia.

    Br MedJ 1968, 4(629):492-493. Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  15. Glynn RJ, Campion EW, Bouchard GR, Silbert JE: The development of benign prostatic hyperplasia among volunteers in the Normative Aging Study.

    AmJEpidemiol 1985, 121(1):78-90. OpenURL

  16. Kristal AR, Arnold KB, Schenk JM, Neuhouser ML, Weiss N, Goodman P, Antvelink CM, Penson DF, Thompson IM: Race/ethnicity, obesity, health related behaviors and the risk of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia: results from the prostate cancer prevention trial.

    JUrol 2007, 177(4):1395-1400. OpenURL

  17. Meigs JB, Mohr B, Barry MJ, Collins MM, McKinlay JB: Risk factors for clinical benign prostatic hyperplasia in a community-based population of healthy aging men.

    JClinEpidemiol 2001, 54(9):935-944. OpenURL

  18. Parsons JK, Carter HB, Partin AW, Windham BG, Metter EJ, Ferrucci L, Landis P, Platz EA: Metabolic factors associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia.

    JClinEndocrinolMetab 2006, 91(7):2562-2568. OpenURL

  19. Platz EA, Kawachi I, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Giovannucci E: Race, ethnicity and benign prostatic hyperplasia in the health professionals follow-up study.

    JUrol 2000, 163(2):490-495. OpenURL

  20. Sarma AV, Burke JP, Jacobson DJ, McGree ME, St Sauver J, Girman CJ, Lieber MM, Herman W, Macoska J, Montie JE: Associations between diabetes and clinical markers of benign prostatic hyperplasia among community-dwelling Black and White men.

    Diabetes Care 2008, 31(3):476-482. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  21. Burke JP, Jacobson DJ, McGree ME, Roberts RO, Girman CJ, Lieber MM, Jacobsen SJ: Diabetes and benign prostatic hyperplasia progression in Olmsted County, Minnesota.

    Urology 2006, 67(1):22-25. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  22. Sarma AV, St Sauver JL, Hollingsworth JM, Jacobson DJ, McGree ME, Dunn RL, Lieber MM, Jacobsen SJ: Diabetes treatment and progression of benign prostatic hyperplasia in community-dwelling black and white men.

    Urology 2012, 79(1):102-108. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text | PubMed Central Full Text OpenURL

  23. Hammarsten J, Hogstedt B: Clinical, anthropometric, metabolic and insulin profile of men with fast annual growth rates of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

    Blood Press 1999, 8(1):29-36. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  24. Kupelian V, McVary KT, Kaplan SA, Hall SA, Link CL, Aiyer LP, Mollon P, Tamimi N, Rosen RC, McKinlay JB: Association of lower urinary tract symptoms and the metabolic syndrome: results from the Boston Area Community Health Survey.

    JUrol 2009, 182(2):616-624. OpenURL

  25. Temml C, Obermayr R, Marszalek M, Rauchenwald M, Madersbacher S, Ponholzer A: Are Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms Influenced by Metabolic Syndrome?

    Urology 2009, 73(3):544-8. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  26. van den Eeden SK, Sarma AV, Rutledge BN, Cleary PA, Kusek JW, Nyberg LM, McVary KT, Wessells H: Effect of intensive glycemic control and diabetes complications on lower urinary tract symptoms in men with type 1 diabetes: Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (DCCT/EDIC) study.

    Diabetes Care 2009, 32(4):664-670. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text | PubMed Central Full Text OpenURL

Pre-publication history

The pre-publication history for this paper can be accessed here: