Tuesday, September 13, 2011

League Needs Emergency Inquiry

I have to wonder if anybody in the league office is atleast informally questioning the bizarre rash of emergency appendectomies that have been taking place.

Before the lockout I don't think I can recall a single reported case of accute appendicitis or a need for an emergency appendectomy.  A brief google search for 'HOCKEY APPENDECTOMY' yields a multitude of names in recent months: Jordan Eberle, Craig Adams, Patrick Sharp, Mike Morris of North Eastern, Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors, Chris Mason, Jonathan Ericsson, Mike Modano, Nick Shultz, TJ Oshie, Paul Stastny and Ruslan Fedotenko to name a few.  Of the 50 hits on Google nearly 3/4 were for the higher profile Sharp and Eberle.

The reason the NHL should be looking further in to this phenomenon is the huge number of issues surrounding what is a fairly common occurence.  It is reported that 8 out of 100 people in North America may suffer accute appendicitis, with a ratio of 1.4:1 men to women.

As I waded through pages of medical sites and grimmaced at unexpected pictures of both appendectomy surgery and inflamed appendices I found a ton of information that calmed my fears in regards to this bizarre increase in occurence among NHLers, but still more that piqued my interest and unfortunately some that shows a need for a full fledged inquiry.

Appendectomy surgery is more likely to occur in men, most often in the ages of 10 to 30 but predominantly before the age of 20.  The odd link between the winter season and appendectomy (most previlent October to May during the NHL season) seemed like coincidence at first but when I read about diets that lead to appendicitis and linked it with the seasonal, age and gender information it just added up.

Diets low in fibre and rich in refined carbohydrates have been linked to accute appendicitis and emergency appendectomy.

Low fibre is an issue for most people as our diets are starved of it.  If an NHL isn't getting his dietary fibre and is ingesting just one carbohydrate rich beverage per day (and it's safe to say that's below average) during the course of an NHL gameday which could include pregame skate, gym time, warm up, game and cool down bike riding then it wouldn't take long for the appendix to become inflamed, would it?

The apparent reason that a lack of fibre leads to appendix issues is a link between infrequent bowel movements and the onset of accute appendicitis. If fecal matter isn't moved through the system quickly enough then it will back up in a fecal retention reservoir in the colon which can inflame the appendix.

Basically being in the NHL is a cocktail for appendicitis, but why is it becoming more of an issue now? Stay with me here as we connect the dots.

July 13 2005 the NHL lockout ends

June 19, 2006 the NHL and PepsiCo. enter in to an agreement making Gatorade the official sports drink of the NHL.

Present day: Continued rise in appendectomy amongst NHLers

In just 240 Ml serving of Gatorade Peform 02 your body would ingest 14 grams of carbohydrates.  Based on a 2000 calorie/day diet the recomended daily intake is 300 grams of carbohydrates. One 750 ML Gatorade represents over 1/10 of your daily recommended intake. This isn't a sports drink with-hunt by any means.  A cup of cooked pasta, the prefered pre-game meal of most NHLers is listed as having between 37 and 44 grams of carbohydrates.

In general athletes need to replace lost nutrients and have a high carb diet, but is the tradition and availability of carbs  to NHLers a risk to their health?

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