However, a new doctoral thesis from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet overturns old ideas that elite sport can damage the health. Many elite female athletes can have a congenital condition, that gives them higher levels of testosterone and that might even contribute to their sporting successes.
“What we’re dealing with is just a tiny increase in levels, which can make it easier for the women to build muscle mass and absorb oxygen,” says Magnus Hagmar, postgraduate at the Department of Woman and Child Health. “This means that they might have got quicker results from their training and therefore been encouraged to train harder and more often.”
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common and congenital cause of menstrual disorder that, amongst other things, can lead to a slight increase in testosterone production. Magnus Hagmar now shows in his thesis not only that PCOS is often behind menstrual disorders in elite Olympic athletes, but also that polycystic ovaries – part of PCOS – were more common amongst elite Olympic athletes (37 per cent) than amongst women on average (20 per cent).
“It’s particularly interesting that the percentage of women with polycystic ovaries was higher in power sports like ice hockey and wrestling than in technical sports like archery and curling,” says Dr Hagmar.
Dr Hagmar stresses that the results have nothing to do with doping. The 90 elite athletes that took part in the study have taken regular drug tests, all of them negative. He believes that the studies overturn old notions that female sporting performance can damage the health.
A central issue in elite-level women’s sport in recent years has been the ‘female athlete triad’, whereby tough training combined with low energy intake has been thought to contribute to menstrual disorder and subsequent low bone density (osteopenia) caused by low levels of oestrogen. However, this new study now shows that elite female athletes, despite menstrual disorders, have very strong bones. In sports where low body-weight is an advantage, women also generally have a healthier way of controlling their weight than their male counterparts.
“We cannot completely rule out low energy intake as a cause of menstrual disorder in elite athletes, there were one case in these studies too, but it is far from the most common cause,” says Mr Hagmar. “The fact that not a single woman had low bone density takes away one of the factors of the female athlete triad.”
Magnus Hagmar is assistant senior physician at the women’s clinic at Karolinska University Hospital, in Stockholm, and carried out his studies in association with the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC). One of the studies involved 223 men and women who had competed in the 2002 and 2004 Olympic Games. Another involved 90 women, all of whom are in training for the 2008 Olympics.
Doctoral thesis: ‘Menstrual status and long-term cardiovascular effects of intense exercise in top elite athlete women’, Magnus Hagmar, Department of Woman and Child Health. The public defence will take place in Stockholm on Friday 18 April 2008.
Katarina Sternudd | alfa
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences