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Cycling won't soften you up, but it might draw attention to other problems

Fitness benefits aside, riding a bicycle does seem to be a very unnatural position in which to place the body, particularly those manly parts which can be so sensitive and vulnerable.

The traditional design of the saddle itself would appear to have been drawn from a medieval book of exquisite torture tools.

But men on bikes can rest easy now following a study by Dr David Samadi at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

As an oncologist and urologist Dr Samadi was keen to explore the effects of bike riding on the male reproductive system and between 2012 and 2013 he and his team researched the experiences of over 5,000 male cyclists.

The researchers analysed the amount of hours spent in the saddle against the incidence of erectile dysfunction, diagnosed infertility and diagnosed prostate cancer.

The results, published in the Journal of Mens Health, were surprising, for a variety of reasons.

Happily there was no evidence of any impact on fertility or any increased occurrence of erectile dysfunction no matter how many hours a man spent on his bicycle.

More concerning, however, was the observation of a much higher incidence of prostate cancer in those who spent the most time cycling.

The 1 per cent of men across the whole sample who were diangnosed with prostate cancer over the course of the study included only 0.5 per cent of the group of occasional cyclists but 3.5 per cent of the most frequent riders.

But this does not mean that regular cycling makes a man seven times more likely to develop prostate cancer.

What it actually shows is that the mechanical process of cycling makes it easier and quicker to spot the disease, also making it easier to treat and increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Dr Samadi explains that exertion of pressure on the prostate by the perenium raises the level of an enzyme known as prostate-specific antigen or PSA. This is the same enzyme taken as an indicator of cancer when present at high levels.

By mildly increasing the overall levels of PSA it makes any further increase more immediately observable.

So cycle on, chaps, it'll keep you healthy, have no effect on your bedroom performance and just may save your life.

 

Source: Live Science et al.
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