Asthma and elite athletes
Asthma is the most common chronic malady among Olympic athletes and the way they train could be the reason, an Australian study has found.
"Inhaling polluted or cold air might explain the cause in some sports," says researcher Kenneth Fitch of the University of Western Australia.
Years of intense training, particularly in endurance sports, may be to blame, Fitch says, particularly since asthma shows up in older athletes. Indeed, American swimmer Dara Torres was 41 when she won three medals at the Beijing Games -- and she had asthma.
The U.S. Centres for Disease Control, on its page for kids, tries to encourage youngsters with asthma to stay active by talking about how successful Olympic athletes are who have the respiratory problem.
Fitch studied five Olympics and put the prevalence of asthma among athletes as eight per cent. His study is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.