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New Research Disputes Previous Study on Health Hazards of Cycling

New research indicates there are more health-related positives than negatives when it comes to bicycling. (Virginia Carter)
New research indicates there are more health-related positives than negatives when it comes to bicycling. (Virginia Carter)
May 17, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Cycling is many people's choice to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors at this time of year. However, a study by Yale researchers in 2006 linked cycling to problems with sexual health and urinary dysfunction. Now, a new team of scientists disputes those results.

According to new research, the Yale study was small and focused mostly on extreme athletes, not those who bike for exercise, leisure or to commute. Dr. Mohannad Awad, resident physician at the University of California-San Francisco and a member of the American Urological Association, authored the new study.

"Surprisingly, the results were completely contradictory to the previous results," he said. "We found that cyclists have no worse sexual or urinary functions compared to other, non-cyclist athletes."

Spring kicks off many cycling marathons, bike swaps, bike rodeos and other events in Minnesota, including the Minnesota Bike Opener in Park Rapids on Saturday. Free biking guides that cover bike trails around the state are available online.

Awad said previous studies raised questions about the risks associated with prolonged perineal pressure in men and women who bike regularly. They linked this pressure to numbness, pain and erectile dysfunction in men, and suggested cycling also may be a hazard to women's sexual health. However, Awad said, this new research focused on the average weekend cyclist, rather than athletes who ride for very long distances.

"When the previous studies have been done in the past, the cycling community just got worried, and a lot of people might have just stopped cycling for a long time," he said. "So, we just wanted to reach out to all the cyclists, all over the world, and let them know the results."

Awad said riding a bike is one of the healthiest forms of exercise, so he advised everyone to strap on a helmet and enjoy the ride.

The study is online at researchgate.net. Information on cycling events is at exploreminnesota.com and MinnesotaBikingGuide.com.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MN