Men can take precautions to prevent prostate infections through physical activities such as biking. Some research, however, shows cycling for long periods of time might actually increase the risk of prostate problems. But do cycling benefits outweigh prostate risks?
Bike riding for hours can put pressure on the prostate area, aggravating or contributing to inflammation of the prostate, also known as prostatitis. The bouncing and sitting from bike riding can cause irritation. Symptoms of prostatitis include lower back pain, abdominal pain, frequent urination or decreased flow during urination and erectile dysfunction.
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Men are encouraged to avoid cycling during episodes of prostatitis. The risk of prostate problems increases for men as they age. Nearly 50 percent of men over the age of 50 have benign prostate enlargement, according to Prostate.net
. The risks of prostate cancer also increase and men are advised to have regular screening and testing for prostate issues after the age of 50.
A study at University College London found that men who biked more than 8.5 hours a week had higher rates of prostate cancer than others in the study who biked less than three and a half hours a week.
The study, however, was based on self-reported results, which made the findings inconclusive and "difficult to interpret," according to Dr. Milo Hollingworth
, the lead author. He pointed out that men shouldn't worry about the increased risk of cancer by cycling, which he said benefits the heart, lungs and mental health.
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"The study shouldn't alarm men who are serious about cycling and are staying in good health," says Dr. Robert Puig, a prostate cancer surgeon affiliated with Baptist Hospital of Miami and South Miami Hospital.
A Swedish study concluded that regular bike riding improves the health of men enough to help prevent prostate cancer. After analyzing the results of 45,887 men between 1998 and 2007, the researchers found the men with the highest lifetime physical activity, including cycling, had a 16 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer when compared to those with the lowest levels of exercise, according to Livestrong.
To avoid prostatitis and other prostate problems, men can select bicycle seats now available to avoid pressure on the groin and prostate areas. These items include soft seats with padding or gel, seats with grooves and holes cut out, split saddles with two sections and no central area and noseless saddles that avoid pressure on the upper thighs. Men can try out the seats to see which ones fit the most comfortably to avoid pressure.
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.
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