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Republished editorial: Elite athletes' survival advantage
  1. Adrian E Bauman1,
  2. Steven N Blair2
  1. 1Professor, School of Public Health, Sydney University, NSW 2006, Australia,
  2. 2Professor, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, USA

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▸ This article is an abridged version of a paper that was published on Cite this article as: BMJ 2012;345:e8338

Could be shared by all through physical activity

Two linked papers examine longevity in former Olympic athletes and reach different conclusions.1 2 Clark and colleagues analysed data on 15 174 Olympic medallists from nine countries that have enjoyed success in Olympic Games. The athletes had participated in at least one Olympic Games between 1896 and 2010.1 The study found that Olympic medallists had a relative survival advantage of 8% compared with matched controls, which translates into 2.8 extra years of life. The second and smaller study by Zwiers and colleagues examined data on 9989 people who competed in Olympic Games between 1896 and 1936.2 They reported no increase in survival among those who competed in aerobic sports and higher mortality in those who participated in collision and contact sports, including power sports. Indeed, mixed epidemiological evidence pervades this literature, with many studies identifying a lower risk of mortality in previously elite athletes, especially those competing in aerobic events.3 By contrast, …

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