In recent years concerns have been raised about possible adverse cardiovascular effects of intense endurance exercise. Additional concerns have been raised about sports where performance enhancing drugs are commonly used. However, a new study shows that despite these potential hazards, elite endurance athletes appear to live longer than their contemporaries.
Xavier Jouven, a triathlete and a researcher at the Sudden Death Expertise Center in Paris, France, gathered mortality information from all 786 French participants in the Tour de France from 1947 through 2012 and compared them to people of the same age in the French general population. The study was presented at the European Society of Cardiology in Amsterdam and published simultaneously in the European Heart Journal.
By 2012, 208 of the French cyclists had died. They had a 41% reduction in mortality compared to their cohorts in the general population (standardized mortality ratio 0.59, CI 0.51-0.68, p<0.0001).