21 July 2014
ByAppeared in BioNews 763
Men who cycle regularly are not more likely to be infertile, an observational study on British cycling habits has found.
The research, by scientists at University College London (UCL), also debunks the popular myth that spending more time in the saddle increases the risk of erectile dysfunction.
'This is good news for male cyclists, there is no association between cycling time and erectile dysfunction and infertility', Dr Mark Hamer, of the Department of Epidemiology at UCL, told the Telegraph.
The research involved an online survey of 5,282 male cyclists and was designed to investigate links between cycling and urogenital abnormalities and disorders. The researchers found no correlation between cycling and infertility, even for men who spend more than 8.5 hours a week on their bike.
Eighty percent of cyclists in the UK are male, and there have been concerns that long periods of cycling can restrict blood flow and increase pressure on the prostate.
'In the modern era cycling saddles are much better now so there is nothing like the pressure that there once was', said Dr Hamer. 'This study demonstrates that concerns regarding male infertility and cycling has not been borne out'.
However, the study did find an unexpected link between increased levels of cycling and prostate cancer, particularly in men over the age of 50. But the authors were keen to stress that the study only shows a correlation and that cycling does not necessarily cause prostate cancer.
Dr Hamer says that that the results are 'tricky to interpret'. 'Obviously the men who are cycling for the most amount of time are more health aware so they may be just more likely to be diagnosed', he said. 'Or there could be a genuine biological link between trauma in the area of the prostate associated with bike riding'.
This link between prostate cancer and cycling has not been reported before, and the authors suggest more research should be done to discover if there is a genuine risk for regular cyclists.