Tour de France riders live longer

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Tour de France riders live longer

Postby greyhoundtom » Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:35 pm

From Cycling Central:

Professional cycling has a reputation for premature deaths, either from tragic crashes on the road or from dangerous performance-boosting substances.

But a new study, based on French participants in the Tour de France, says that male pro cyclists are likelier to live longer than their counterparts in the general public - a whopping 6.3 years more, on average.
A team led by Eloi Marijon of the Paris Cardiovascular Centre measured the longevity of all French cyclists - 786 in all - who finished at least once in the Tour since 1947, and compared this against the lifespan of average Frenchmen.

As of 1 September 2012, 208 out of the 786 cyclists had died.

Mortality rates among this group were 41 percent lower than in the general population, they found.

Deaths from cancer and respiratory disease were 44 percent and 72 lower respectively, and mortality from cardiovascular causes was down by a third.

The longevity held true despite three periods of doping in cycling - amphetamines, in the 1950s and 1960s; anabolic steroids in the 1970s and 1980s; and EPO and growth hormones after 1990.

The team add the caveat that the data from the post-1990 doping era are preliminary, and more time is needed to confirm the trend.

The longer lifespan could be explained in part by a healthy way of life, as many athletes continue to practice sport after they retire and very few of them smoke, says the study.

Excessive exercise good for you
Dr. Xavier Jouven of the European Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris, who led the analysis, said the mortality reduction was "huge" and the result suggested that doctors should be more assertive in championing vigorous exercise.

"We should encourage people to exert themselves," he said. "If there was a real danger in doing high-level exercise then we should have observed it in this study."

Riders in the Tour de France - which has been compared to running a marathon several days a week for nearly three weeks - actually had a 33 percent lower risk for death from heart attacks or strokes than the general population.

Indeed, they suffered lower rates of death from all causes, including cancer, with the one exception of traumatic injury, which Jouven said reflected the frequency of road accidents.

Worries about high-intensity exercise like cycling and marathon-running have been fuelled by some previous small studies using advanced imaging techniques that suggested possible heart abnormalities, such as heart arrhythmias.

Alfred Bove of Temple University Medical Centre and a former president of the American College of Cardiology, who was not involved in the latest study, said such imaging data could be misleading.

The long-term analysis of Tour de France riders offered a unique insight that clearly vindicated the value of extensive exercise, Bove said.

"The message is clear - even the level of intensity involved in the Tour de France is not going to shorten your life," he said.

The study did not adjust for different smoking rates among cyclists, but Bove argued this was "essentially irrelevant".

"If exercise and a commitment to that kind of lifestyle makes you stop smoking, then that is an additional benefit," he said.

The French cyclists studied took part in a median 2.5 Tour de France races and their median age at the first race was 25 years.

The findings were being presented on Tuesday at the Congress of the European Society of Cardiology in Amsterdam.
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by BNA » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:26 pm

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Re: Tour de France riders live longer

Postby eeksll » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:26 pm

wander if they considered that these athletes most likely have good (superior?) genes which might skew their results one way or the other.
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Re: Tour de France riders live longer

Postby toolonglegs » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:35 pm

Taking all the performance enhancing drugs possible is still a lot healthier than smoking a packet or two a day for 30 years :mrgreen:
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Re: Tour de France riders live longer

Postby clackers » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:56 pm

Remarkable. Anyone see that SBS docco on 100 years of the Tour? Heaps of tobacco, amphetamines and the rest!
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Re: Tour de France riders live longer

Postby winstonw » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:07 pm

my goodness... :roll:

so all the average bloke has to do to live longer is become a pro cyclist!
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Re: Tour de France riders live longer

Postby greyhoundtom » Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:46 am

I’m not sure why so many people believe that those drugs taken to improve an athletic performance are bad for your health and that they may cause an early death.

Certainly administering EPO in the wrong dose can thicken the blood to the extent that it could cause a cardiac arrest, but then taking EPO in the right dosages improves oxygen delivery to every part of the body, and that is good not just for better muscle function, but more importantly for your internal organs and brain.

Anabolic Steroids including Testosterone taken in regular very small doses improve muscle strength, bone density, promote lean muscle tissue, and generally stimulates cell regeneration and in the process improves injury healing.

Human Growth Hormone? Nothing wrong with using HGH, it facilitates new cell growth all over the body, and I wish I could afford to take at my age as it would certainly help to improve my current health.

Yes some substances taken in excessively high doses for a long period of time can increase the chance of cancer in susceptible individuals, but overall the health benefits of taking PED’s combined with strenuous exercise far outweigh the health factors of how the general population of most countries live their lives.
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Re: Tour de France riders live longer

Postby barefoot » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:32 am

eeksll wrote:wander if they considered that these athletes most likely have good (superior?) genes which might skew their results one way or the other.


This.

The general population includes all manner of people with chronic health issues - some caused by lifestyle, of course, which is what they are insinuating here, but also many congenital. Including plenty of minor issues that don't cause much trouble throughout life, but may reduce lifespan.

The population of cyclists who have completed a Tour de France won't include people with these conditions. To put it insensitively, the runts of the litter don't compete in the Tour de France.

It's some good statistics, regardless... but like they say about statistics...
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Re: Tour de France riders live longer

Postby InTheWoods » Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:55 pm

eeksll wrote:wander if they considered that these athletes most likely have good (superior?) genes which might skew their results one way or the other.


That was my first reaction too, except I wondered it :P
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Re: Tour de France riders live longer

Postby toolonglegs » Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:15 pm

Smoking rate for adults in France is something like 20-30% ... Not hard to live longer than most.
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