With all the speculation on Mr. Armstrong, perhaps this gives both an alternative explaination for his perfomance AND gives other really serious male cyclists an alternative to performance enhancing drugs ...
Med Hypotheses. 2007;68(4):735-49. Epub 2006 Nov 13.
Metabolic clues regarding the enhanced performance of elite endurance athletes
from orchiectomy-induced hormonal changes.
Atwood CS, Bowen RL.
Section of Geriatrics and Gerontology, Department of Medicine, University of
Wisconsin-Madison and Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Veterans
Administration Hospital, Madison, WI 53705, USA. email@example.com
This article examines the metabolic performance of an elite cyclist, Lance
Armstrong, before and after his diagnosis with testicular cancer. Although a
champion cyclist in 1-day events prior to his diagnosis of testicular cancer at
age 25, he was not a contender in multi-day endurance cycle races such as the
3-week Tour de France. His genetic makeup and physiology (high VO2max, long
femur, strong heavy build) coupled with his ambition and motivation enabled him
at an early age to become one of the best 1-day cyclists in the world. Following
his cancer diagnosis, he underwent a unilateral orchiectomy, brain surgery and
four cycles of chemotherapy. After recovering, he returned to cycling and
surprisingly excelled in the Tour de France, winning this hardest of endurance
events 7 years running. This dramatic transformation from a 1-day to a 3-week
endurance champion has led many to query how this is possible, and under the
current climate, has led to suggestions of doping as to the answer to this
metamorphosis. Physiological tests following his recovery indicated that
physiological parameters such as VO2max were not affected by the unilateral
orchiectomy and chemotherapy. We propose that his dramatic improvement in
recovery between stages, the most important factor in winning multi-day stage
races, is due to his unilateral orchiectomy, a procedure that results in
permanent changes in serum hormones. These hormonal changes, specifically an
increase in gonadotropins (and prolactin) required to maintain serum testosterone
levels, alter fuel metabolism; increasing hormone sensitive lipase expression and
activity, promoting increased free fatty acid (FFA) mobilization to, and
utilization by, muscles, thereby decreasing the requirement to expend limiting
glycogen stores before, during and after exercise. Such hormonal changes also
have been associated with ketone body production, improvements in muscle repair
and haematocrit levels and may facilitate the loss of body weight, thereby
increasing power to weight ratio. Taken together, these hormonal changes act to
limit glycogen utilization, delay fatigue and enhance recovery thereby allowing
for optimal performances on a day-to-day basis. These insights provide the
foundation for future studies on the endocrinology of exercise metabolism, and
suggest that Lance Armstrong's athletic advantage was not due to drug use.
PMID: 17095167 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]