Cleves Time Trial
So-so night at 370 watts and 22:41 on the time. Power was good on the first 6 miles at 375 and 27.48 mph. The last 4+, usually the faster section, was just upper 350's and 27.33. I need to push that up to 28 to do well on that course.
Day 2: 3x20 seconds, 3x3 VO and 4x1 max
I like these. Short but intense. On the 3x20 seconds pushing cadence I held 124/225, 115/251 and 123/286. On the 3x3 minutes going up Heekin Avenue I held 409, 405 and 393. I've been using the same climb when we need a 4 minute effort (power usually in the 360-390 range) and I'm getting pretty close to the top 20 seconds faster. The power goals for the 3 minutes are based on what I've held in the 5k and 10k time trials for that period of time. The same with the 2 minutes at 460-480. I'm glad that I can hold that in competition. Maybe I need someone next to me on these! On the 4x1 minute efforts I held 502, 499, 507 and 502, not far off my usual one minute efforts.
Next Sunday is the KY State time trials in Frankfort along the Kentucky River. Can't wait. Its a great course.
VO2 and other efforts
That was a tough session! On the 60 seconds at 110-130 rpms I held 113/346, 116/324, 118/337, 118/339. On the alternating 2 and 3 minute VO2 efforts I held 478/414, 452/401 and 432/360. I had 3 minutes between each. I really fell apart on that last one. On the stomps (53/15, in the saddle starting at 50 rpm) I held 556, 523, 548, 507 and 514. I used the crit course at Ault Park for the high cadence and stomps and the Heekin Avenue climb for the 2-3 minutes.
Why We'll Never Catch All of the Cheaters (and the dangers of steroids), RoadbikeRider
DRUG CHEATING IN SPORT UNLIKELY TO CHANGE
Every new Olympics seems to yield new drug cheating controversies. Taking performance-enhancing drugs, which can have serious side effects, gives athletes a major unfair advantage over other athletes who do not take drugs. Many athletes at the highest level of sports are taking drugs that can harm them, and this practice is extremely unlikely to diminish in the future.
The New York Times has a feature article on Shirley Babashoff, arguably America's greatest female swimmer ever (August 1, 2016). Forty years ago, she was the best female swimmer in the world and was favored to win seven gold medals at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, as Mark Spitz had done in the 1972 Munich Olympics. Instead, she came away from the games with only one gold medal in the relays and four Olympic silver medals. In the 1976 Olympics, the cheating East German women won 11 of 13 gold medals in swimming after having failed to win even one gold medal four years earlier.
Clean Shirley Babashoff was beaten in the 100- and 200-meter freestyles by 17-year-old East German Kornelia Ender, who won four gold medals, and in the 400 and 800 freestyles by 15-year-old East German Petra Thumer.
Babashoff correctly claimed that she was beaten by women with huge masculine muscles, facial hair and deep voices, but she was shunned as a sore loser by the news media and even by many swimming officials who should have supported her. Instead of making millions of dollars in endorsements that would have followed the gold medals that should have been hers, she had to raise her son as a single mother while working as a postal carrier.
She had spent her entire youth training as much as five hours a day in the pool while her classmates socialized and got advanced degrees to raise their future standard of living. She was deprived of her rightful fame and fortune by the cheating, lying East German government with its systematic program of drugs for all of its athletes. Many of the women who took the drugs became infertile and had increased risk for various cancers and heart problems.
Babashoff, now 59, says: "I worked so hard for what I didn’t get, I had a bad taste in my mouth for years . . . It’s weird, my story is still relevant. The thing is, it’s still going on. And it’s not going to go away." According to the New York Times, retesting athletes' urine from the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Games found nearly 100 positive doping samples, and many of these athletes still have the medals they stole from their more honest competitors.
How Anabolic Steroids Work
Anabolic steroids are synthetic male hormones that make you faster and stronger (NEJM, 1996(July 4);335(1):1-7) and give you greater endurance. They can be taken as a pill, as a shot into a muscle, or as a gel or cream rubbed on the skin. Steroids increase red blood cell counts. The limiting factor for how fast a person can go over distance is the time it takes to get oxygen into exercising muscles. Since 98 percent of the oxygen in your muscles is carried by your red blood cells and very little is diffused in the blood fluid, anything that increases the number of red blood cells allows the blood to carry more oxygen and gives the athlete greater endurance.
Athletes train by taking a hard workout that damages muscles on one day, feeling sore on the next day, then going easier until the soreness diminishes, and then going hard again. As soon as athletes start to take anabolic steroids, they notice that they recover much faster, so they can do intense training almost every day and thus become much stronger (Sports Med, 2004;34(8):513-54). Many men who are not athletes take steroids to make themselves look more attractive with larger muscles.
Women Gain Even More Strength from Steroids Than Men Do
Anabolic steroids act by attaching to special muscle androgen receptors that stimulate muscles to increase their uptake of protein and make muscles recover faster from exercise and grow larger. Since women have much lower levels of natural testosterone than men, women gain a much greater increase in muscle strength when they take anabolic steroids.
All of East Germany's 1976 Olympic team athletes had participated in the state-sponsored doping program, but the women showed the most dramatic improvements. The same thing happened with Chinese athletes in the 1990's.
In September 1993, Chinese female runner Wang Junxia broke four world records in three events in six days. She ran 3,000 meters in 8 minutes, 6.11 seconds, 16 seconds faster than the previous world record. Four other Chinese women broke the world record for the 3,000 meter run in that same race. She also broke the world record in the 10,000 meters and the 1,500 meter run, arousing suspicions because China had never excelled in track.
Before that week, no Chinese runner had ever held a world record in running. Their coach claimed that they were using herbal medicine made from worms. Since none of the Chinese men held world running records, Mary Slaney, the American record holder, wanted to know, "Why aren't their men eating those worms?" None of these Chinese women ever won races in which they were checked for anabolic steroids.
Dangers of Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic steroids can damage the liver (Clin J Sprt Med, 1999;9(1):34-39), heart muscle (Med Sci Sprts & Ex. February, 1992), enlarge the prostate (Brit J of Urol. Oct 1994;74(4):476-478) and cause infertility (Lancet, December 1990). Athletes who take anabolic steroids are at increased risk for heart damage, as well.
Baseball star Ken Caminiti, the Most Valuable Player in the National League in 1996, died of an apparent heart attack in 2004. He was one of the first professional baseball players to admit using steroids. In 1988, 38-year old Florence Griffith-Joyner suffocated after suffering a seizure. The three-time gold medalist track star was rumored to have taken male hormones, although this has never been proven.
She is considered to be the fastest woman of all time, still holding the world records she set in 1988 for the 100 and 200 meter dashes. From the 100 to the 1500 meters (except the 400 meter hurdles), no women’s track and field world record has been broken since 1993, when testing for male hormones became more sophisticated. After FloJo’s death, Lorna Boothe, a former training partner, stated that FloJo used a cocktail of steroids and testosterone to change her from an average athlete to the best of all time. She said that she came forward after FloJo’s death to discourage other athletes from taking steroids and suffering the potential side effects.
How Steroids Damage the Heart
Taking male hormones stimulates sympathetic nerves leading to the heart to delay heart muscle recovery from exercise. Your heart rate is supposed to slow down as soon as you stop exercising. Those who take male hormones take longer for their heart rates to slow down after exercise and also have reduced flow of blood to their heart muscles (Int J Sports Med, Oct 2013;34(10):931-5). Taking male hormones also causes the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart, to enlarge disproportionately, compared to the rest of the heart. This increases chances for irregular heartbeats and sudden death (Heart, May 2004;90(5):473–475).
Steroids also lower blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol and increase levels of the bad LDL cholesterol. Adding HGH (human growth hormone) to steroids increases heart enlargement even more, without enlarging the nerves that control the heart's contractions, to increase risk of heart failure and death from irregular heartbeats. Steroids also cause the bone marrow to increase production of red blood cells and platelets, which can cause the red blood cells to clump together to form clots that cause heart attacks and strokes.
All anabolic steroids act similarly to the male hormone, testosterone. Researchers reviewed the medical records of 55,593 men who were given testosterone for low testosterone levels or sexual dysfunction and compared them to men who received Viagra or Cialis but no testosterone. After three months, the risk for heart attacks was double in the testosterone group for all of the men older than 65, and in the men younger than 65 who had a history of heart disease (Public Library of Science, January 29, 2014).
This study prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to start an investigation of the risk for heart attacks after taking testosterone. Another study of 8,709 men with low testosterone levels showed an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, and deaths after starting testosterone (JAMA, November 6, 2013). A study to see if testosterone gel helped frail older men to build muscle and strength had to be stopped early because of a marked increase in heart attacks and one death (NEJM, November 4, 2010).
Anabolic Steroids can Kill You Long After You Stop Taking Them
Anabolic steroids and human growth hormone, either taken together or alone, can enlarge your heart muscle without also enlarging the heart nerves that control your heartbeat. That means that people who take anabolic steroids are at increased risk for sudden death from irregular heartbeats while they take them and this increased risk for sudden death can continue for 30 or more years after they stop taking them.
List of Side Effects of Steroids
In both men and women: high blood pressure, increased risk for heart attacks and strokes, raised LDL (bad) cholesterol, lowered HDL (good) cholesterol, increased risk for liver disease and liver cancer, oily skin, acne, male-pattern baldness, irritability, rage, violence, manic behavior, delusions, insomnia
In men: reduced sperm count, shrunken testicles, infertility, enlarged breasts
In women: increased body hair, rough skin, decreased breast size, enlarged clitoris, deepened voice, increased risk for breast cancer (Sports Med. 2004;34(8):513-54).
Why Athletes Can Still Cheat
At this time it is not possible to catch all of the anabolic steroids that athletes use to make themselves better athletes. As new derivatives are concocted, it takes time to devise tests that will identify them.
Each type of anabolic steroid has a certain chemical structure, and existing tests find only the known structures. If the chemical structure of a steroid is altered by changing just one double bond or one atom, the existing tests cannot detect it. These minor changes of structure do not change the benefit to the athlete, but make that new molecule undetectable by present methods. To detect a banned substance, scientists have to know what molecule they are looking for. Thus,
- Steroid manufacturers will forever be able to change molecules and make them undetectable by the current testing methods
- Some athletes will use any method to win at all costs
- Athletes who take the new performance enhancers will always have an advantage over clean athletes who refuse to take them.
Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
, is a sports medicine doctor and fitness guru. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin has run more than 40 marathons and is now a serious tandem bike rider with his wife, Diana. His website is http://drmirkin.com/
. Click to read Gabe's full bio
Causes of Cramping, RoadBikeRider article
CRAMPING: A CASE STUDY - THE PERFECT STORM, PART 1
RBR Premium Member Tom D. recently e-mailed us an excellent set of questions on cramping based on his own ongoing issues with cramps. His experience and the myriad issues surrounding the prevention and treatment of cramps (along with the fact that it's a topic I've researched and written about extensively, and that continues to be of interest) led me to write a 2-part series of articles in response. Part 1 discusses Tom's problems, which are common to many roadies, and what scientists know about cramps. Part 2, next week, will discuss the role of supplements and other ways of preventing cramps.
Tom's Troubles With Cramps
When I started riding, I never had any sort of cramping issue regardless of the mileage or the temperature/humidity. After three years of riding I purchased a new bicycle and had a custom fit performed. The seat was changed from a 143 mm to a 155 mm wide saddle and the seat height was raised some 1.5 inches. About two months after that my adductors started cramping [adductors are the thigh muscles on the interior portion of the thigh]. I had a second fitting done four years ago by another shop. The fitter came up with the same saddle width of 155, but lowered the seat 1/2 inch. The cramping continues.
I hydrate a lot on all rides. When I feel the "flutter" of adductor cramps coming on during a ride (normally, it happens later into a ride of 40 miles or more, depending upon temperature and humidity), I usually stop, let my legs hang off the pedals of my trike for a minute or two, and drink some more water. (I started riding a trike a couple of years ago in part to seek relief from cramping.) Then, I can get out of the trike, and take some small magnesium pills that I carry with me. I take about four of those and within a minute or two, I'm normally good to go for the rest of the ride. The adductors are the only muscles that cramp up.
With the help of the magnesium, I don’t normally cramp during a ride, but 6 to 12 hours later I seize up big time! I stretch after rides and do self-massage. However, the cramps will still strike without warning, most of the time when I get up off a chair or the couch. Those are the really bad ones. Pure agony.
There have been times when sleeping that both adductors seize up at the same time, and I cannot move or do anything but writhe in agony until the 5-6 waves of those cramps subside. The night cramps occur only after riding. Not always, but most commonly if I push it or the temperature and/or humidity are higher than normal.
Constant worrying about cramps has taken the fun out of riding. I don't get my heart rate up for fear of pushing it too hard and ending up with those horrific adductor cramps.
We know that Coenzyme Q10, magnesium, sports drinks, pickle juice and other things help alleviate, reduce, or squelch cramping, correct?
My Response to the Myriad Issues Tom Raised
Ouch! I wouldn’t ride hard either if the result was agony in bed!
Let me work through some of the many issues you raised in your personal cramping story, Tom, starting with the scientific knowledge (or lack of it) about cramps.
What causes cramps?
Scientists don’t really understand what causes cramps. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Overuse of a muscle, dehydration, muscle strain or simply holding a position for a prolonged period can cause a muscle cramp. In many cases, however, the cause isn't known.”
Often cycling problems such as cramping may be the result of a cascade of different factors: electrolyte depletion, dehydration, fatigue, heat, poor bike fit and age, possibly compounded by an underlying medical condition or side effects from a medication. Any one of these may not cause cramping, but the combination of several can result in a perfect storm of pain!
That's what makes cramping such a consternating issue for sufferers.
There are two dominant theories on what causes cramps:
1. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance
2. Neuromuscular fatigue
An excellent paper on Exercise Associated Muscle Cramps
(EAMC) is a macro review of many studies and discusses the merits of both theories. The paper was published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information PubMed (NCBI PubMed), a database of 26 million peer-reviewed scientific articles.
Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance
Many health care professionals and organizations, including the Mayo Clinic, attribute cramps to dehydration and/or electrolyte imbalance. (This is based on inference from field observations, not double-blind experiments.)
However, research on runners and other athletes doesn’t support this. Runners and other athletes are more prone to cramping in hot and/or humid conditions. However, runners in marathons in cool conditions also cramp.
Dehydration isn’t the cause. Runners who cramp drink about the same amount as runners who don’t cramp. Changes in plasma volume aren’t significantly different between runners who cramp and those who don’t, and runners who cramp have about the same percent weight loss as runners who don’t cramp.
The paper cites four separate studies, “sweat rate and sodium/fluid losses are often not different in athletes who develop EAMC” from athletes who do not cramp. In another study, “when carbohydrate-electrolyte fluids were ingested at a rate that matched sweat loss, EAMC still occurred in 69% of athletes.”
If dehydration and/or electrolyte imbalance were the causes, then drinking more and taking supplemental electrolytes would solve the problem.
The neuromuscular theory of cramping proposes that the combination of muscle overload and neuromuscular fatigue cause a cramp. The muscle spindles send messages for the muscle to act and the Golgi tendon organs (GTOs) send messages for the muscles not to act. As the neuromuscular system fatigues, the GTOs may sense that the muscle is in danger of injury and send strong signals to contract to protect the muscle — it cramps! Cramps occur when the muscle is contracting in an already-shortened position.
The results from research studies on neuromuscular fatigue are stronger than the observational studies of athletes’ experiences. However, the latter studies have also produced inconsistent results.
The paper concludes, “Because EAMC occur in a variety of situations, environmental conditions, and populations, it is unlikely that a single factor (e.g., dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or neuromuscular factors) is responsible for causing them directly. It is more likely that EAMC are due to a combination of factors that simultaneously occur under specific physiological circumstances in each athlete.”
Let’s look at the other potential factors:
Heat and humidity
Although these don’t cause cramps, they increase the probability of cramping. In the hot months I recommend that my clients do their intensity workouts either first thing in the morning when it’s relatively cool or in an air-conditioned space on the trainer. For long rides I recommend that they ride more slowly than on cooler days.
Cramps don’t happen when a rider first gets on the bike — they usually develop later in the ride and when the rider is pushing a bit: riding farther, climbing more, riding faster, etc.
But the only way that a rider improves is by asking the body to do more than it’s accustomed to doing! How can a rider push the limits without cramping? By eliminating, or at least reducing, the other contributing factors.
After a 100-mile ride, a cramp-prone client reported, “I was pretty happy with Friday's endurance ride. As per your advice, I slowed the pace down. Friday was hot (93 degrees) and humid. I tend to cramp on long, hot rides, but I guess slowing the pace and becoming fitter maybe prevented the cramping.”
Specific muscle fatigue
As you pedal your muscles get progressively more tired and at some point on that continuum are fatigued enough to cramp. Usually one muscle group is the weakest in the kinesthetic chain that produces power. Tom’s adductors cramp. In other riders the calves are often the culprits. Strengthening a cramp-prone muscle group is another way to reduce the risk of cramps.
The adductors are the muscles on the inner thigh that pull the knees toward each other. When Tom pedals, his knees may naturally track outside of his feet rather than in a straight line. His adductors work to keep the knees in alignment relative to the feet. This is a biomechanical problem that probably can be fixed with a proper bike fit.
In Tom’s case, if he didn’t have a problem with cramping before the saddle width and height were changed, I would suggest that he put the old saddle back in the original position and see if cramping remains a problem.
If you have problems with cramping (or any other recurring pain while riding!) I recommend a bike fit. Bike fit changes over time as your strength and/or flexibility change. Bike fit also changes when your goals and style of riding change. If you haven’t had a bike fit in several years, two fit systems to consider are:
- Specialized Body Geometry
Both have trained technicians in bike shops around the world. The Specialized techs train in a program developed by Andy Pruitt, the dean of professional bike fitting and founder of the Boulder Center or Sports Medicine (BCSM). The founders of Retul worked at the BCSM. Pruitt just retired as director of the BCSM, and I’ve done probably a hundred bike fits for clients with him.
The paper on EAMCs says that cramps are more likely to occur when a muscle contracts in a shortened position. When you pedal, your quads, hamstrings, glutes and other muscles all work through a limited range of motion, which makes them more prone to cramping.
This explains why cramps hit Tom when he gets up off the couch. His muscles are already in a shortened position, and the act of getting up off a chair or couch requires contracting those already shortened muscles.
The EACM paper notes that, “stretching the affected muscle almost immediately relieves EAMC.”
Tom is 68, soon to turn 69. As you age, muscle mass is lost. There are fewer active muscle fibers to do the work, so they fatigue more easily, making cramping more likely. You don’t have to lose that muscle mass, though. Really pushing it on the bike makes your legs hurt; however, it doesn’t load the muscles hard enough to prevent atrophy. A coach who works with Team BMC sends his a rider back to the gym after a grand tour because the rider has lost muscle mass!
Underlying medical condition
If you have recurring cramps, then they may be related to some other medical issue. Since cramps usually have multiple causes, see your health care professional to rule out any medical condition as a contributing factor.
Medication side effects
Cramping is listed as a side effect of many medications. Although the medication alone may not cause cramps, it may increase the potential for cramps, which are then triggered by other factors. If you suspect a medication may be part of the problem, talk with your health care professional about trying a different medication.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Most of the time, no apparent cause for night leg cramps can be identified. In general, night leg cramps are likely to be related to muscle fatigue and nerve problems.” In athletes, night cramps occur after exercise because the muscles are in a cramp-prone state.
If we can solve the problem of preventing cramps during exercise, then this will help reduce the problem of night cramps.
Part 2 of this article in next week's RBR Newsletter will discuss the role of supplements and other ways of preventing cramps.
Coach John Hughes
earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written nearly 30 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes
. Click to read John's full bio
Back at Cleves
After two weeks away, one at the Blue Streak and one at the Michigan time trials, I was back at Cleves tonight. Not a bad effort at 373 watts, 22:28, around 27.5 mph. Held around 375 for the first 6 miles and then upper 360's for the last four with avg speed at 28 that last four. Could have a good night for a season best (anything sub 22:20) but I just wasn't too motivated the last half.
I couldn't resist. back in northern Michigan so I did my favorite century, and it rained again but not for too long. Averaged 247 watts for 5:19. I was at 258 for the first 60 miles. Slowed down some with the rain and the ride through Sleeping Bear Dunes. I'm taking tomorrow off and then we drive home on Sunday. I'll get some inside miles late in the afternoon on Sunday going through my mail and newspapers.
Michigan State TT, 5k
Gold again and another state record. Rode at 402 watts for 6:51, 27.5 mph. The one minute intervals between riders really made difference. Had the course mostly to myself. Passed maybe three riders instead of 15. I love those short races! Felt like I was riding well the entire way.
Michigan Senior 10k TT
Interesting course on the Waterford Motor Speedway. Lots of turns on each 1.5 mile lap and lots of rider as we had 30 second start time gaps. I was on the course for 13:54, the best time in the 50-54 and I believe a state record, and had to have 20+ people out there with me. At the end of my first lap I passed 6 riders as I came by the pits. Also had to pass riders at almost everyone one of the 6+ turns on each lap. Let more like a scattered road race at times. Had one small climb that slowed us down also. I thought I'd be 20 seconds faster than that. Power was good at 380, speed just below 27 mph.
Last Intervals before Michigan time trials
I did 6x30 seconds on the crit course. Power averages were 619, 652, 649, 657, 651 and 651. Finished with 30 minutes at 170 and then 30 below 100, inside. Yesterdays rest day helped and tomorrow will be off for the drive.
Shorter ride, one longer interval
I'll be driving home tomorrow and will do an indoor recovery ride there. Today I did a shorter ride with one 22 minute effort at 322. I've used this same climb many times in the past and this time and power would be pretty typical.
Wonderful ride up to Clingmans Dome and back. I did throw in the 10 and 8 x 30 but they were more about getting the cadence up while climbing. I also threw in 2x5 minutes. Overall, feeling pretty mellow and knowing this climb takes a couple of hours I didn't kill it on these. That being said, this was one of my fastest times over to the top at exactly 2:13. A few year ago I did a little under 2:10. I really wasn't trying to go fast and didn't even check my time until I had rolled into the parking lot at 6300'. Temperature went up 30 degrees from the top to the bottom on the descent.
Alcohol: No Health Benefits and Increased Cancer Risks
ALCOHOL HAS NO HEALTH BENEFITS
A study from New Zealand shows that 30 percent of alcohol–related deaths are from cancer, and 60 percent of those deaths are from breast cancer. One third of these deaths were associated with an average of fewer than two drinks a day (Drug Alcohol Rev, June 16, 2016).
However, the more you drink, the more likely you are to develop certain cancers. Alcohol increases risk for cancers of the oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, breast, cervix, vulva, vagina, skin, bladder, lung, stomach, skin, prostate and pancreas, and for leukemia and multiple myeloma.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that alcohol kills more than 88,000 people each year and has shortened the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years (CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, March 13, 2014). Alcohol also causes one in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years, and the health damage it causes costs $223.5 billion, or $1.90 per drink.
The Link Between Alcohol and Cancer
Alcohol is broken down only by your liver, which converts it to acetaldehyde, a substance that can damage cells' genetic material called DNA to stop apoptosis, which can cause cancer. Alcohol and acetaldehyde can damage any living tissue they touch. The risk for cancer increases with the amount of alcohol that comes in contact with that tissue. Alcoholic beverages first touch the mouth and then the esophagus; therefore, these areas are at high risk for alcohol-induced cancers. Alcohol reaches the colon, rectum, and liver later so the link between these cancers and alcohol is not as strong.
Smoking Increases Cancer Risk from Alcohol
The risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, and esophagus is much higher if you drink and smoke than if you use either alcohol or tobacco alone. The more you drink and smoke, the greater your risk (Int J Cancer, 2011;128:533-540).
Definition of a Drink
In all of these studies, a "drink" is defined as the amount of alcohol that it takes an average person's liver one hour to clear half of the alcohol from the bloodstream. That amount is 0.6 ounces (14.0 grams or 1.2 tablespoons) of pure alcohol, which would be:
- 12 ounces of beer (5 percent alcohol content)
- 8 ounces of malt liquor (7 percent alcohol content)
- 5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol content)
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof (40 percent alcohol content) liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)
However, the amount of alcohol a person's liver can clear varies with body weight, sex, age, metabolic rate, recent food intake, the type and strength of the alcohol, and any medication you take, so your "drink" size may be different from the average.
One Alcoholic Drink per Day is Associated with Increased Cancer Risk
A review of 222 articles, following 92,000 light drinkers and 60,000 non-drinkers, showed that taking even one alcoholic drink a day is associated with increased risk for cancer of the mouth and throat, esophagus and breast (Annals of Oncology, Feb 2013; 24(2):301-308). Thirty-seven percent of North American adults take up to two drinks a day. Many have the mistaken belief that it is safe and even healthful for women to take up to one drink per day and for men to take up to two drinks per day. An additional 28 percent of North Americans drink more than that.
Moderate Drinking Has Not Been Shown to Prevent Heart Attacks
For many years, the wine, beer and alcoholic beverage industries have promoted studies showing that alcohol helps to prevent heart attacks. Their studies appeared to show that taking one to two drinks a day is associated with reduced risk for heart attacks.
However, drinking alcohol regularly is associated with high blood pressure, heart failure, sudden death and stroke. Studies that compare "moderate drinkers" with "non-drinkers" are deceptive because more than half of the people who call themselves non-drinkers are recovering alcoholics or people who had been told to stop drinking because they already have health problems.
Scientists reviewed 87 published studies on the effects of alcohol on death rates and found that all but 13 of these studies had a non-drinker group that included people who were told not to drink because they already had liver, heart or kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, certain cancers, alcoholism, stomach ulcers, or other major health problems (Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, March 2016;77(2):185–198). When people with alcohol-related diseases were removed from the abstainer group, moderate drinkers did not have a lower incidence of these diseases than the non-drinkers.
Researchers at the University of Victoria in British Columbia reviewed 54 studies and found that only seven of those studies corrected their non-drinking population for people who had been told to stop drinking for health reasons (Addiction Research and Theory, April 2006). The Canadian researchers re-analyzed 47 studies that associated wine or other alcohol with a longer life and decreased risk for heart attacks.
When the studies were corrected to remove the people who had been ordered to stop drinking for health reasons, they found no benefit for the moderate drinkers compared to healthy non-drinkers. Another study, which followed 53,000 men and women ages 50 and older for six to 10 years, found that alcohol has no demonstrable health benefits and does not prolong life (British Medical Journal, February 10, 2015).
Recent research shows that taking just one drink increases heart attack risk for the next hour (Circulation, March 4, 2016).
Alcohol Increases Stroke Risk
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol increases a middle-aged person’s chances of suffering a stroke as much as high blood pressure or diabetes does. Those who take in more than two drinks a day have a 34 percent increased risk of stroke compared to those who take in less than half a drink (Stroke, Jan. 29, 2015). Those who take in more than two drinks a day in their 50s and 60s suffer strokes earlier in life than light drinkers or non-drinkers.
Alcohol Increases Risk of Permanent Liver Damage
Drinking alcohol regularly increases risk for permanent liver damage called cirrhosis (Journal of Hepatology, January 26, 2015). Wine is associated with a lower risk for liver damage than beer or liquor. The authors of this study warn that older drinkers are more likely to have health conditions affected by alcohol or to take medicines that impair their ability to metabolize alcohol.
Long-Term Health Risks from Alcohol
In addition to the immediate risks of harm from alcohol (accidents, violence, poor judgment), regular alcohol consumption increases risk for:
- High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, stomach ulcers
- Many types of cancer including breast, prostate, mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver and colon
- Learning and memory problems (dementia, poor work or school performance)
- Emotional problems, social problems and alcoholism
Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
, is a sports medicine doctor and fitness guru. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin has run more than 40 marathons and is now a serious tandem bike rider with his wife, Diana. His website is http://drmirkin.com/
. Click to read Gabe's full bio
Seemed to have done well. I was getting some dropouts on my computer during the ride and missed much of the warmup. We did the latter in a heavy downpour. The race itself was just hot and amazingly humid. Power looks like 366 avg so I'm happy with that. I know that last year at this point I was posting some in the 340's. I think I just have more drive this year at this point. I've been resting well, making the most of the interval days, keeping the strength training on the schedule, etc. I think that after nationals last year I was having a hard time pulling out that big power. It was more in my head than in my legs.
21:39, 27.7 mph...pretty happy with that
2 sets of 10 x 30 seconds on/off, 10 minutes between
I had fun with these. Used the Ault Park course going clockwise and starting at the bottom of the circle on each. Average for the first set was 611 and for the second 609. The details on power, set 1: 584, 602, 618, 610, 614, 596, 606, 626, 619, 632. Set 2: 602, 602, 607, 618, 606, 623, 598, 614, 592, 626.
Cleves Time Trial
I rode a 22:35, 27.4, 370 watts, 85 rpms with splits of 374 and 361 for each half. Certainly a decent time but I just feel like I could go faster. Seems like I'm not getting those sustained 29-30mph periods on the last 3 miles like I did in the past. Maybe its the super high humidity. Cadence is also much lower than in the past but it feels right this year for some reason. It'll be higher in the upcoming Michigan Senior Time Trials.