Cycling May Increase Risk of Prostrate Cancer But Not Infertility, Erectile Dysfunction

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British Cycling National Road Championships 2013
Graham Campbell/Flickr

Cycling is completely safe for young men, a new study says. However, the popular sport can slightly increase risk of prostate cancer in men aged above 50.

Researchers from the Medical School of University College London looked at 5,282 male cyclists enrolled in the Cycling for Health UK Study and found no solid evidence to prove that cycling increased the risk of urogenital disorders including infertility and erectile dysfunction (ED).

While the men reported prevalence of erectile dysfunction in their life, information about the other two conditions were based on reports from physicians. Milo Hollingworth and colleagues divided the whole group into different sections based on the total time they spent for cycling every week – more than three to eight hours.

The study could not find any link between the total cycling time and infertility and erectile dysfunction.

“These null associations refute the existence of a simple causal relationship between cycling volume, ED, and infertility,” the authors wrote. “The positive association between prostate cancer and increasing cycling time provides a novel perspective on the etiology of prostate cancer and warrants further investigation.”

However, the findings reported in the Journal of Men’s Health contradict opinion from health experts. Irwin Goldstein, director of San Diego Sexual Medicine, warns  against too much cycling as sitting on bicycle pad for several hours “compress the artery and vital nerves” to the penis, further increasing the risk of erectile dysfunction, Web MD reported. However according to Goldstein, the risk can be lowered by making changes in sitting positions — sitting upright while riding and using a “no-nose” seat that helps to spread the weight equally  in buttocks.

In 2008, Vinod Nargund, a consultant urological surgeon at St Bartholomew’s and Homerton Hospitals, London urged men to choose the right bicycle to avoid genital numbness, erectile problems, soreness and skin problems in groin area. Cycling for several hours can also affect the normal function of sperm and lead to testicular damage.

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