Ben Quinn

Is your saddle harming you?

Professor Robert Thomas sorts the facts from the fiction when it comes to problems pertaining to the perineum

Is Your Saddle Harming You?

Certain aspects of cycling are quite punishing on the body, particularly in the saddle area.
Training schedules that involve a high volume and intensity of riding raise some health concerns. The aim of this article is not to put cyclists off this great sport but to highlight sensible nutritional strategies that will help diminish the risks and enhance performance. The potential health issues we re focusing on here relate to the intensity of some regimens and the trauma to the perineum.

>>> How to prevent saddle sores1

Intense training can produce reactive oxidative species (ROS) that can damage DNA in the chondritic cells of the joints leading to arthritis and can cause genetic mutations leading to cancer. Testosterone levels, in the long term, can fall, contributing to fatigue, poor motivation, reduced erythropoietin levels leading to lower haemoglobin (anaemia) and erectile dysfunction (ED).

The combination of ROS and lower testosterone explains the increased number of abnormal sperms and lower viable-sperm counts among elite cyclists, although an effect on actual fertility has not been established.

>>> Can you buy your way to a fitter you?2

Lower testosterone combined with the general lower body mass index of cyclists and lack of weight-bearing exercise leads to significant loss of calcium in the bones (osteoporosis), a condition that afflicted Chris Boardman3 and led to his early retirement. Trauma to the perineum via repetitive direct compression of the prostate can lead to chronic inflammation of the prostate. This chronic inflammation is known to be a risk factor for malignancy and can cause enlargement of the prostate (Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy) leading to urinary problems such as a slow stream or having to get up in the night. This direct damage combined with trauma to adjacent nerves and blood vessels supplying the penis can further contribute to ED caused by testosterone deficiency.

>>> Embarrassing cycling problems, and how to prevent them4

The prevalence of ED is debatable, however; some studies, such as the large UK 5,000-cyclist survey, reported no problems with ED, whereas others such as the Boston cohort study reported that ED was three times more likely among cyclists, especially those who use saddles that cause penile numbness. In women, repeated friction can lead to vaginitis, soreness, and bacterial and yeast infections.

Get the right saddle for you


What can be done to reduce these potential risks? First, don t stop cycling. Exercise instigates numerous biochemical changes which have direct anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties including a lowering of growth cytokines such as Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF), an improvement of insulin sensitivity, increased performance of natural killer cells and lymphocytes, which improves immune recognition of infection and cancer cells; reduced markers of chronic inflammation such as cyclo-oxidase and prostaglandin.

>>> Why stress can make you fat and what to do about it5

The links between cycling and prostate cancer are, despite the hype, tenuous. The largest study, involving 5,000 cyclists, reported a six-fold increase in prostate cancer among cyclists who trained more than eight hours per week compared to men who trained less than 3.75 hours.

Less widely highlighted in the media was that all men in the study had a cancer rate that was three times lower than that in the general population. Nevertheless, the increased risk in elite athletes compared to other cyclists highlights the importance of reducing your intake of cancer-forming chemical (carcinogens) and increasing intake of natural anti-cancer foods.

>>> Is your adrenal system making you tired?6

To avoid carcinogens, in practical terms, you should reduce intake of foods that enhance chronic inflammation such as refined sugars and processed meats; avoid carcinogens such as acrylamides formed by super-heating carbohydrates (crisps, rye bread, even some cereal and energy bars); and avoid Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Heterocyclic Amine exposure found in processed and burnt meats. It s important to boost the diet with polyphenol-rich foods, which have direct anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties as well as the ability to up-regulate antioxidant enzymes, which help mop up ROS. It s the polyphenols that provide the colour, taste and aroma of foods such as vegetables, spices, herbs, teas, berries, vegetables and fruits.

>>> Detraining: The truth about losing fitness7

The World Cancer Research Fund reported that individuals who eat these foods have a lower risk of cancer and that well conducted trials of polyphenol-rich whole food supplements have demonstrated significant anti-cancer benefits. The largest and most notable of these was the UK government-backed national Pomi-T trial which showed that a supplement containing a blend of purified, high-grade turmeric, pomegranate, green tea and broccoli prevented early prostate cancer progressing to more advanced disease in a large proportion of men compared to those taking a placebo.

>>> Can you be fat but fit?8

In conclusion, the biochemical changes which arise after exercise, such as cycling, have significant cancer and chronic disease protection properties. Nevertheless, the generation of free radicals, fall in testosterone and local inflammation remain potential concerns with intense cycling.

How to get your saddle height spot on

CA: Do polyphenol-rich foods have other health benefits for cyclists?

These foods are also high in other nutrients such as plant proteins, minerals, fatty acids and vitamins essential for tissue repair including the cartilage within joints. Population studies have linked their higher intake to a lower risk of arthritis, a finding supported by laboratory experiments showing they directly protect cartilage-forming cells from physical trauma and chemical toxins. This would be relevant for cyclists at any level of fitness who also sustain a great deal of mechanical strain on their joints.

CA: Why does intense cycling reduce serum testosterone levels over time?

Although regular exercise delays the natural age-related decline in testosterone, strenuous exercise accelerates this drift. This is because after intense exercise, testosterone increases for about an hour depending on the level of fitness and age. The body then adapts to these higher testosterone levels by telling the testes to reduce production.

CA: What dietary measures can help prevent a fall in testosterone?

Well-conducted studies have demonstrated that low levels of vitamin D and essential minerals such as zinc, magnesium selenium and chromium are associated with lower levels of testosterone. Reassuringly, the same studies showed that correcting these deficiencies increased testosterone back to normal and can also improve muscle strength, so increase your intake of foods that contain these minerals such as crab, oysters, fish, pumpkin seeds, Brazil and other nuts, fleshy green vegetable and seaweed.

>>> How to tell whether you are overtraining, and how to avoid it9

Cholesterol is a precursor in the testosterone biosynthesis pathway, so increase healthy fat intake, preferably from plant sources such as coconut, avocado and olive oil as well as smaller oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and anchovies. Avoid statins unless you have other risk factors for cardiac disease. Eat less sugar and processed carbohydrates, as these increase blood sugar and risk Type 2 diabetes which is linked to lower testosterone.

Pick less refined carbohydrates such as wild rice and quinoa.

Professor Robert Thomas is a consultant oncologist at Bedford and Addenbrooke s Cambridge University Hospitals and Professor of Applied Biological and Exercise Science at Coventry University


  1. ^ >>> How to prevent saddle sores (
  2. ^ >>> Can you buy your way to a fitter you? (
  3. ^ Chris Boardman (
  4. ^ >>> Embarrassing cycling problems, and how to prevent them (
  5. ^ >>> Why stress can make you fat and what to do about it (
  6. ^ >>> Is your adrenal system making you tired? (
  7. ^ >>> Detraining: The truth about losing fitness (
  8. ^ >>> Can you be fat but fit? (
  9. ^ >>> How to tell whether you are overtraining, and how to avoid it (

Buzzbike will give commuters a free bike to keep, but there’s one catch

Buzzbike is looking to disrupt the world of advertising by offering free bikes to commuters which bear advertisements of sponsors

Buzzbike Will Give Commuters A Free Bike To Keep, But There’s One Catch

Do you want to ride to work but can t afford to upgrade to a good enough bike to get you to the office? New cycling initiative Buzzbike seems to be offering a deal that is almost too good to be true. The scheme will see members be given a free, top-of-the-range single speed to take home and keep, as well as some lights, a bike lock and even insurance for a deposit of 100. All you need to do in order to keep the bike is ride to work on it a minimum of 12 days a month and park it on the street. Your commutes will be tracked through an app that automatically connects your phone with your Buzzbike.

>>> Half of London s commuting bikes are not road worthy, claims mobile repair service1

Parking on the street seemingly gives the partners of Buzzbike the advertising they need to make the scheme viable each bike will be customised by mobile payment company Braintree.

Five essential commuting tips

Buzzbike co-founder Tom Hares says: Brands have been advertising on commuter transport for hundreds of years. Given the growth in cycling and the culture that surrounds it, bikes felt like a natural progression.

The technology we ve developed allows brands to create surprising and fully integrated brand experiences, whilst providing Londoners with a completely free way to get around the city

>>> Nine ways to make your commute more like the Tour de France2

For the month of June, Buzzbike is also offering the chance for the public to buy shares3 in the company for 10, helping the company put the bikes on the road. There is also an exhibition about the cycling revolution at the London Design Museum running until June 14.

Buzzbikes will reportedly be on the road in September, so make sure to look out for them.


  1. ^ >>> Half of London s commuting bikes are not road worthy, claims mobile repair service (
  2. ^ >>> Nine ways to make your commute more like the Tour de France (
  3. ^ chance for the public to buy shares (

Destinations on Google Helps People to Plan Their Trip in Detail

Destinations On Google Helps People To Plan Their Trip In DetailGoogle is attempting to make Discount Holidays © holiday planning less stressful for its users. To do this, it is releasing a new function this week named Destinations on Google that is intended to help people determine where to travel, when to travel and the best activities happening there.

The service will also help them get low cost flight tickets and resorts. This latest addition is not a new web page, but instead, people will come across it during their mobile queries for journey offers and guidance. If they search European holidays , they will be offered a series of important places, the price to travel there and the ideal period to go. Users can go to a particular country or region and they will see a choice to start up Google recent travel guide . No matter how they get there, these queries will take customers to the new Destinations function, which is the place to find details on the place and particularly the price of traveling or remaining there.

All Destination sections have a pair of tabs for the users. The first of these is intended to help them discover that location with information, images and video clips from across the Internet. Much handier, it also contains itineraries. Among the most difficult parts of a journey is estimating exactly how much time to stay in each location or where to go between, so the search engine wants to solve this problem with an assortment of editorially designed and algorithmically produced guidelines.

At release, more than 200 places will have detailed itineraries available, which is more than just one guide per city. London, for instance, has itineraries covering a three days trip and other schedules for visiting its famous attractions. If you have not actually decided on which places to visit, a nation s Google Destination section can provide various algorithmically created itineraries depending on where the Google Maps app has identified individuals going and how much time it detects them remaining there. The overall objective, say the company s officials, is to allow users to discover places when they do not know when or where they are going. The itineraries will be fairly useful for this, but it has some limitations; since Google cannot, for example, tell people how to reserve transport from one location to another.

Destinations other section is where the search engine will help people to plan their journey and remain. It is useful, but it is not much handier than what the Flights app tickets resort search can currently do. It basically brings together these two solutions to give only one cost for traveling. Like Google s Flights service, it will present the lowest priced schedules to go, so that people can better see when they want to leave. Unfortunately, they still must reserve every flight or resort separately through that company s web page.

If people prefer one of these itineraries and want to follow the course on a daily basis, they will have to reserve each flight or resort separately.

Image source: Declara1


Rebecca McGhee is a valuable contributor for several publications and online platforms. Having graduates with a degree in Computer Science, her interest lies mostly in this area. Yet, she finds any tech-related topic or scientific topic is a challenge worth meeting. She enjoys turning her own research projects in worthy contributions that reach the large public. And mostly, she is grateful for all the feedback she receives from readers, as she believes it aids her in permanently improving her style of writing, beyond the scientific style she is accustomed to.


  1. ^ Declara (
  2. ^ (