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Is the Bradley effect damaging men's prostate health?

3 min read

Prostate problems tend to affect nearly 50 per cent men over the age of 50 and as many as 90 per cent of men in their seventies and eighties.

Sales of prostate products have increased

A recent article published in the Daily Mail reported a steady increase in sales for prostate products over the last year, particularly amongst younger men in their 40's - ChemistDirect Superintendent Pharmacist, Omar El-Gohary states sales of prostate products have quadrupled for customers aged 40-45 and total on-line sales increased by 20 per cent in South East last year. El-Gohary believes the surge may be down to the boom in cycling. Retail analyst Mintel also revealed last year that half of all British men cycle, with the overall growth in bike sales propelled by men aged 35-45.

May be down to the rise of the MAMIL

In October, British Cycling, the UK cycling governing body, reported that membership had risen above 80,000, it has in effect doubled following the success of Sir Bradley Wiggins at the 2012 Tour de France and Team GB at the London Olympics. In particular it is middle aged men who are taking up the sport as a way of keeping fit -  this group have become known as MAMILs -  Middle Aged Men In Lycra!

The link between cycling and prostate problems has been documented in The Sports Medicine Book, which revealed that genital numbness, swelling, and pressure on the prostate were common side effects of cycling. On rare occasions, cases of infertility, blood in the urine or inflammation of the prostate were also reported. 

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have found incidents of prostate problems caused by cycling are the result of compression of the prostate from sitting in the saddle for long periods of time. Omar El-Gohary said: ‘Cycling is not directly linked to prostate problems, but repetitive trauma to the prostate on the saddle can occur which can lead to inflammation of the prostate. 

Find ways to reduce the pressure on the groin area

El-Gohary added: ‘If you are feeling pain when cycling, assess whether the pain subsides when you get off the saddle. 'If the pain remains, and is accompanied by other problems such as urinary problems or erectile dysfunction, you should book an appointment with your doctor. ’Finding ways to reduce pressure on the groin area (as the prostate is located just below the bladder), such as regularly standing on the pedals to wearing padded shorts, can help." A study in the British Journal of Urology International showed that grooved seating produced less numbness in the penile area and impact on erectile dysfunction, but also, the position of the ride is crucial. Consequently, more bike manufacturers are now making bikes with specially fitted saddles.

Due to the fact most of the negative effects on the prostate from cycling stem from the bicycle seat, Dr. Paul K. Nolan, an internist who refers to himself as the Bike Doc, suggestst that if you have a chronic prostate problem that’s made worse by sitting on a conventional seat, you can find “exquisite relief” by switching to a recumbent seat. Dr. Steven Schrader of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati wrote an article published in August 2008 in the The Journal of Sexual Medicine that reported on a study showing that noseless bicycle saddles can reduce numbness, pressure and genital discomfort in male cyclists.

Saw Palmetto may help

Prostate products that have seen increased sales include Saw Palmetto - read our previous post about mens prostate health to learn how it may be beneficial.

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.