Cyclists that Bike in Big Cities Might Be Damaging Their Lungs

I started going to my current doctor some 15-years-ago. Back then he was just starting out, but I knew that someday he would make it big. A couple of years ago he did. He is now director of a clinic run by one of the best teaching hospitals in the country. He is also an associate professor at Washington University Medical School. This makes it a lot harder to schedule an appointment.

The good doctor has always practiced what he preached. He is a vegetarian and a very good athlete. He rides his bike to work about 15 miles going and coming each day. He also is a semi-professional speed skater. At the time I started going to him, I drank pretty good and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day.

But now I’ve finally taken his advice to heart. I quit smoking and cut down on all of my other vices as well such as beer and eating a lot of greasy fast food. I’m not a vegetarian, but I’ve stopped eating red meat and processed foods and I must say that I feel a lot better. As far as exercise goes, I don’t do a whole lot of that, but I do walk whenever I can.

Recently, I ran across a bit of news that might not set well with my doctor. Seems that his biking to work every day in an urban environment may not be so good after all. According to Medical News Today:

“Commuters who regularly cycle through major cities like London every day inhale more carbon than pedestrians, and this may cause damage to their lungs, according to new research from the UK.”

When you cycle and I guess jog through these urban environments you inhale more carbon soot particles that are released from automobiles because you are breathing heavily. The cyclists also ride their bikes in the street making them closer to the traffic that’s emitting exhaust fumes. This increased lung pollution can result in damage to the lungs and even cause a heart attack.

The researchers did the study by testing the macrophages in the lungs. These are kind of the sweepers of the immune system that take foreign particles out. Both pedestrians and cyclists were tested and the cyclists had 2-3 times more carbon in their lungs than the pedestrians. The difference was statically significant even though the sampling group was small.

The study took place in London so maybe American cities have less pollution. But you might not want to tell the folks living in L.A. that.

So maybe my doctor might want to start wearing a respirator when he cycles to and from work every day.


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