Friday, July 4, 2008

Wonder Drug

The applications never end.

Athletes looking for a performance boost are increasingly turning to a little blue pill more usually taken for its off-the-field benefits: Viagra.

The drug works by increasing the effects of nitric oxide, which makes blood vessels expand. That should theoretically allow blood cells to travel to the lungs more efficiently and to also receive more oxygen. It may also improve heart function.

Viagra is also approved to treat pulmonary hypertension, a condition where the lungs' blood vessels tighten. Doctors have used the drug experimentally to treat pregnant women with high blood pressure and to ward off jet lag.

But whether Viagra makes athletes faster, higher or stronger is uncertain.

Not all athletes benefit.

Viagra is only likely to help athletes like runners, cyclists or skiers — sports where endurance and speed are key.

Hmmm...speed and endurance......It seems to me that increasing those would benefit anyone engaging in the most popular activity involving that drug. However, I can also imagine how it's best-known effect could be a hindrance to a male athlete should it kick in during competition.

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