Anatomy of a Scare Story!
There’s a few things that annoy me. People asking me ‘Where do you get your Protein?’ or the ‘Running is bad for you’. So all across the media yesterday was a story with the headline that ‘Ultra Marathons will give you blood poisoning’
So I thought I’d examine the Daily Mail version of this story. The Daily Mail is not really renowned for the accuracy of its stories on any given day there will be a myriad of health stories normally unsubtly pushing some miracle weightloss or health diet.
Anyway the article is HERE. I did try to search for a copy of the research that the article is quoting but I have as yet been unable to find one. I would be interested in reading the original research but all I can go on is this article
Too much exercise can trigger blood poisoning, scientists have warned.
Now that’s scary shall I stop running now?
Researchers said their findings came after analysing people who participated in fitness events, including ultra-marathons, and multi-stage marathons which span consecutive days.
Dr Ricardo Costa, of the University of Monash, said: ‘Blood samples taken before and after the events, compared with a control group, proved that exercise over a prolonged period of time causes the gut wall to change.
So I’m not going to get blood poisoning just changes in my gut wall? Make up your mind DM
‘This allows the naturally present bacteria, known as endotoxins, in the gut to leak into the bloodstream.’
This then triggers an inflammatory response throughout the body from it’s immune cells, similar to a serious infection, he added.
I’m confused now is it a serious infection or just similar to one?
These are events in which people run for longer than the standard 26 miles (42km), and often run for long distances on consecutive days.
‘Nearly all of the participants in our study had blood markers identical to patients admitted to hospital with blood poisoning,’ Dr Costa said.
‘That’s because the bacterial endotoxins that leach into the blood as a result of extreme exercise, triggers the body’s immune cells into action.’
So they don’t have blood poisoning just blood Markers the same as people with blood poisoning? So they haven’t actually got blood poisoning? Does that mean their immune cells are working properly?
And they found that it is people who jump into endurance events with little preparation that are most at risk.
They discovered fit and healthy individuals who follow a steady training program to build up to extreme endurance events develop immune mechanisms to counteract the body’s inflammatory reaction, without any side effects.
This meant they were protected against developing blood poisoning.
So what you are saying is if you train for an event appropriately you wont get sick or injure yourself? In more shock news it has been discovered that bears do defecate in the woods and His Holiness the Pope is indeed a Roman Catholic.
In extreme cases, it leads to sepsis induced systemic inflammatory response syndrome, a condition which can be fatal if it is not diagnosed and treated promptly.
So you are saying if people don’t train or prepare properly and in the very extreme cases they may or may not get blood poisoning? So not very likely then?
‘It’s crucial that anyone who signs up to an event, gets a health check first and builds a slow and steady training program, rather than jumping straight into a marathon, for example, with only a month’s training,’ he added.
So you are saying that people should use some common sense?
The research team found that people who were fitter and trained over a longer period of time leading into the ultra-marathon event had higher levels of Interleukin 10 – an anti-inflammatory agent – which allowed them to dampen down the immune response which caused the negative health impacts.
‘The body has the ability to adapt and put a brake on negative immune responses triggered by extreme endurance events.
‘But if you haven’t done the training and you’re unfit – these are the people who can get into trouble,’ Dr Costa said.
So what you are saying is train for your event? So inserted into the rest of the article are a few sad events when fit runners died of unknown reasons or reasons with no relationship to the article.
So what I can take from this article is that if I train properly I will in all probability finish an even as a fit and healthy person. So I just wasted minutes of my life reading a non story?
In all seriousness I would be interested to see the original research. I do very much doubt that we will see Ultra runners clogging up the Accident and Emergency Departments or overtaking obesity as the biggest health issue in the developed world. It is sad though is I know people who use articles like this as an excuse not to get moving when moving would be such a positive thing for their health.