Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer that men face. While the disease rarely appears before 40 years of age, it is common in the mid to late 60’s.
While it is one of the slow-moving cancers, it does kill its patients and is the second-leading cause of cancer death for men.
Cyclists are an extremely health-conscious bunch. Hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars are invested each year in maintaining peak health.
Cycling is more than just an escape, it is an unspoken promise that they are putting in the required work as cyclists to build a healthy, young, body. It is a hope that they will be able to keep the forces of age at bay and have a more energetic retirement than most.
This unspoken agreement is why is so important to understand the risk factors for cyclists. If we understand the potential risk factors of cycling, we can mitigate them.
Misinformation Keeps People From Exercising
Additionally, there may be perceived risk factors that do not exist. Identifying these fears and addressing them can bring more people into the sport.
Dave’s Cheap Bikes — a site dedicated to bringing new people into the sport of cycling — struggles with this all the time. “We constantly have to re-educate people on the risk associated with the sport, from the risk of getting hit by a car to the risk of a head injury,” says site owner, Dave Henly.
If something seems scary, people are unlikely to engage in that activity.
And, with exercises such as cycling, avoiding the sport may lead to a higher risk of illness or death from risk factors related to being sedentary.
The Study Prompting The Fear
In 2015, a study was published where 5,000 cyclists had self-reported into a questionnaire.
This survey uncovered a 6-fold increase in the rate or prostate cancer among men who trained for eight hours or more per week, versus those who trained for less than 3.75 hours each week.
The correlation is stunning.
This study is one of those areas where it is important to understand the differences between correlation and causation.
For example, men who are suffering from cancer are more likely to be aware of the study and to respond. This can create an abnormally high ratio of the number of cancer patients to the number of non-cancer patients.
It can cause a higher correlation, but this high correlation does not mean that cycling is a causative factor.
We aren’t satisfied that the sample size was representative of the cycling population. So it could be that there is a higher risk, or just that those with cancer had a higher likelihood of responding.
Cycling Elevates PSA
PSA or prostate-specific antigen is higher in those who are sedentary, specifically those people who sit all of the time.
However, cycling can also increase the PSA levels.
Sometimes doctors will ask a patient to give up cycling for a few weeks and then re-run the PSA test to see if cycling was the cause behind an inflated PSA number.
A high PSA score does not necessarily mean that the individual will have a higher risk of prostate cancer. Right now, it is the best tool we have to predict the chance of cancer, but it isn’t as accurate of a tool as we might wish it to be.
However, until a better test is designed, we can expect PSA scores to be the “gold standard” for the near-term.
Cycling Reduces Cancer Risks
Study after study has uncovered the benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise and it impacts on your likelihood of dying from cancer.
In some studies, we see that women who work out regularly, have a better chance of beating breast cancer.
Another study in Great Britain points to commuters — people who ride to work by bicycle — having a lowered risk of cancer. This study actually found a correlation between lower cancer risk that was as high as 45%.
Other correlation studies have found that people who got an hour or more of exercise each week had a 23% lowered risk of dying from all death causes.
So, on the one hand, we have a study pointing to a higher risk of prostate cancer. However, we have multiple studies that indicate a lowered cancer risk overall.
Weight Loss Lowers PSA
If you want the benefits of cycling, but also want to minimize your risk of prostate cancer, you will want to focus on a healthy lifestyle.
Weight loss and avoiding extended hours of sitting are vital to lowering your PSA scores. If you have a desk job, be sure to stand and walk every hour to keep your body active.
You can also mix up your cycling with other sports such as weight lifting and swimming. Cycling is an excellent, low-impact sport, but it is not the only one you should engage in.
And rest assured, that cycling seems to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Even if one study said otherwise.