"She won the New York City Marathon from 1978-80, 1982-86 and 1988, the London Marathon twice (1983, 1986), was world marathon champion in 1983, a five-time world cross-country champion and won silver in the marathon at the 1984 Olympics.
So now Waitz has been diagnosed with cancer. Not too different than Lance Armstrong, one of the most talented endurance athletes of all time who came down with testicular cancer.
Exercise is absolutely necessary for high-level wellness, but if you exercise too much it is clearly harmful and cancer seems to be a possible adverse outcome. My guess is that one's antioxidant threshold is exceeded or micronutrients are consumed at a level that cannot be easily replaced. Either way, they both add up to a major problem."
Quoted from an article by Dr J Mercola in response to the news that runner, Grete Waitz, is undergoing treatment for an unspecified form of cancer.
Gary Moller comments:
While much disease is still "luck of the draw", there is still a lot that we can do to reduce controllable risk factors so that the odds of the draw are more in our favour. Too much exercise is not good for us. Having spent most of my life in sporting circles I have been well aware that exercise does not necessarily make one healthier.
Longterm studies such as the Framingham Study, show that moderate exercise improves life expectancy; whereas excessive exercise reduces it. Excessive, exhaustive exercise can deplete immune function and increase the risk of colds (This can be countered to some extent by taking additional antioxidants, principally vitamin C) Please refer to my earlier article about this.
The first defense against disease, including cancer, is a strong immune system that is bolstered by dietary antioxidants derived from foods such as berries and brightly coloured fruit and vegetables. Adequate vitamin D derived mostly from sunlight is essential for a robust immune system.
We need to reduce exposure to toxins such as environmental pollutants and numerous chemicals in products like cleaners; burned, stale and rancid foods, food additives and even excess alcohol and various medications. As sports people we should not ignore the cancer risks of anabolic steroid abuse which is popularised by high profile athletes and celebrities (Refer my article about Arnold Schwarzeneggar).
One of the best predictors of future ill-health is stress and that includes events like getting married, divorced, changing jobs, a promotion/demotion, travel and running a marathon. We sure can do a lot about exercise; but what about the people who overdo it and do so year after year?
As many doctors know, an obsessive-compulsive addiction to exercise is one of the most difficult sports medicine problems to deal with. There are numerous examples of compulsive exercisers who continue to exercise to excess, despite badly worn joints. A doctor's advice to "rest up" is seldom heeded. Refer to my earlier article about excessive exercise here. In such cases, a combination of referral to counselling services and being placed under the caring wing of a knowledgeable sports coach may be the best course of action.
While exercise is good for you, too much of a good thing is not. Maintaining good health is all about balance in life and moderation of all things good while minimising all things bad.