Junkfood Science: Super Bowl banned for 'causing' heart attacks?

January 30, 2008

Super Bowl banned for 'causing' heart attacks?

Just imagine, New York Giants and New England Patriots fans might have to find something else to do this Sunday.

The Super Bowl, and all spectator competitive sports, may be a thing of the past, in accordance with current public health policies. A new study has found such sporting events are associated with a 326% increase in cardiac emergencies among men and nearly a doubled risk among women. These are actual myocardial infarctions and cardiac arrhythmias, not surrogate endpoints for heart problems. For those with heart disease, the risks are twice those of people without a history of heart problems.

Calls have already begun to ban all competitive sports to protect public health and contain healthcare costs...

In a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, German researchers examined cardiac emergencies during the Fédération Internationale de Football Association World Cup compared with the weeks before and after. Acute cardiovascular events among 4,279 patients in the Munich area increased nearly three-fold among men on days of matches involving the German team compared to the control period. Nearly half of those experiencing cardiac emergencies during the sporting events had known coronary heart disease, compared to about 30% of those during the control period. The researchers said preventive measures were urgently needed.

Canadian emergency room and sports medicine physicians at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal reported similar surges when Canadian teams competed in the Olympics. Games were thought to be too stressful.

Given the precedence of other bans in the interest of public health to prevent risks for heart problems, banning all spectator sports would make the only 'sensible' recourse.

Consider, for comparison, the bans on transfats. FDA’s scientific experts concluded that based on all evidence, eliminating transfats from our diet was not necessary and no research has ever found transfats to increase heart attacks or actual heart disease. Transfats make up a tiny part of the fats in our diet — we eat five times more saturated fats and the amounts we eat haven’t increased for at least the past half century. In fact, said the FDA, transfats have never been shown to actually harm health in human studies. No research has ever shown transfats to be a public health concern in the amounts we eat them. The Nurses Health Study has even failed to find any link between transfats (or any other dietary fats) and heart disease in more than 20 years. At high levels, the most that’s been shown in some studies is that transfats are associated with untenable increased relative risks, primarily for temporary changes in cholesterol levels (surrogate endpoints). Despite the evidence, transfats have been declared by certain public officials as too deadly to be permited in any amounts.

So, compare the correlation between transfats and untenable 0% to 53% higher relative risks largely relying on surrogate endpoints ... to the correlation between sporting events and the 326% higher risks for actual cardiac emergencies, and the answer is clear: All spectator sports must be eliminated for your protection.

It is only logical, right?


Addendum: Clearly, this proposal is tongue-in-cheek. But if this latest sports study actually worried you, please see Dr. Wes for a healthy perspective. As he says: "Watch. Cheer. Socialize. Be Happy."

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