The present study aimed at determining the use of physician-prescribed medication in a large number of elite athletes compared with a representative control sample of the general population. Of all the athletes (N = 494) financially supported by the National Olympic Committee, 446 completed a structured questionnaire (response rate 90.3 %) in 2002. A control group (N = 1503, response rate 80.1 %) comprised an age-matched sample from the population-based study collected by the National Public Health Institute. Any prescribed medication was used by 34.5 % of the athletes and 24.9 % of the controls during the past seven days. The most frequently reported physician-prescribed medications among athletes during the previous seven days were anti-allergic medicines (12.6 % of the respondents), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs; 8.1 %), anti-asthmatic medicines (7.0 %), and oral antibiotics (2.7 %). The adjusted odds ratios (95 % CI) for the physician-prescribed medications used during the previous seven days was 2.42 (1.69 - 3.46), 3.63 (2.25 - 5.84), 3.42 (2.05 - 5.70), and 2.15 (1.03 - 4.45) for use of anti-allergic medication, NSAIDs, anti-asthmatic medication, and oral antibiotics, respectively, in the athletes compared with controls. Every fifth athlete reported some NSAID-related adverse effect. In conclusion, the athletes used NSAIDs, antibiotics, anti-asthmatic and anti-allergic medication significantly more often than a representative sample of age-matched controls. All these medicines have potential adverse effects that may have a deleterious impact on the maximum exercise performance of elite athletes. Adverse effects were commonly reported in connection with NSAID use.
Controlled clinical trials on the effects of leukotriene antagonists on asthma-like symptoms, bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airway inflammation have not been performed in elite athletes.
In 2001, we examined 88 of 102 (86%) players from three junior, national league ice hockey teams in Helsinki. Athletes were included in the intervention if they reported at least two exercise-induced bronchial symptoms (wheeze, cough, shortness of breath) weekly during the previous month on a previously validated respiratory-symptom questionnaire. Sixteen male ice hockey players fulfilled the study criteria. A double-blind, randomized, cross-over, placebo-controlled study included 4-week active treatment (10 mg oral montelukast, bedtime), 1-week washout period, and 4-week placebo treatment. Before entering the study, all patients were clinically examined, skin prick tested, filled in a respiratory symptom questionnaire, performed a spirometry and a histamine challenge test, and gave induced sputum samples. Exhaled NO was measured. These measures were repeated after both treatment periods. During the treatment the athletes kept daily diary on lower respiratory tract symptoms on a scale from 0 (no symptoms) to 10 (most severe symptoms), morning peak expiratory flow (PEF), training amount, and use of study medication. Primary end-point was daily lower respiratory tract symptom score.
Montelukast had no effect on daily lower respiratory symptom scores, spirometry parameters [forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), FEV1/FVC ratio, PEF], bronchial hyperresponsiveness, sputum eosinophil or neutrophil cell counts, exhaled NO measurements, or morning PEF. Nine subjects were atopic in skin prick test, but their results did not differ from the nonatopic subjects.
A leukotriene antagonist, montelukast, was of no benefit in the treatment of asthma-like symptoms, increased bronchial hyperresponsiveness or a mixed type of eosinophilic and neutrophilic airway inflammation in highly-trained ice hockey players.
This study aimed to assess the prevalence of smoking and snuff use in Finnish elite athletes. Of all the athletes (n = 494) financially supported by the National Olympic Committee, 446 completed a structured questionnaire (response rate 90.3 %) in 2002. A control group (n = 1504, response rate 80.2 %) comprised an age-matched sample from the population-based sample collected by the National Public Health Institute. Any smoking was reported by 11.4 % of the athletes (3.6 % daily and 7.8 % occasionally) and by 38.3 % of the controls (28.1 % and 10.2 %). After adjusting for age, sex, and education, OR (95 % CI) for any smoking was highest 0.42 (0.23 - 0.77) for athletes in skill-based events and lowest 0.06 (0.02 - 0.17) for endurance athletes as compared with controls. Snuff use was reported by 24.6 % of the athletes (9.6 % daily and 15.0 % occasionally) and by 3.7 % of the controls (1.8 % and 1.9 %). The adjusted OR (95 % CI) for any snuff use was highest 15.6 (9.55 - 25.6) for team-sport athletes and lowest 3.33 (1.54 - 7.21) for endurance athletes as compared with controls. Although snuff use in the general female population is rare, also female athletes did use snuff. Though prevalence of daily smoking among athletes was one-seventh of the respective figure for the general population, prevalence of daily snuff use was five-fold that of controls. Tobacco free elite athletes are valuable in health counselling because athletes are considered role models influencing their peers and the sport. Sport associations are challenged to ban all forms of tobacco.