Medical opinion

No reason to compromise lung capacity

Emphysema is on the end of the spectrum of what could happen potentially to a smoker.
Emphysema is on the end of the spectrum of what could happen potentially to a smoker. PHOTO: ST FILE

As an Asian Games sailing gold medallist and head and senior consultant at Changi Sports Medicine Centre, Ben Tan knows the importance of fitness in the pursuit of sporting excellence.

Smoking, therefore, has no place in sport and he said it was heartening to see the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) taking a firm stand on stubbing out the habit among its youth players.

Tan, a three-time Singapore Sportsman of the Year, said: "We know about the diseases associated with smoking, so I won't belabour the medical issues.

"From a sporting standpoint, athletes should always strive for excellence in performance.

"Aerobic fitness is a prerequisite for athletes, and smoking directly affects this.

"Lungs are a key component in the delivery of oxygen to muscles, and athletes need theirs in perfect condition."

During a 90-minute football match, outfield players can run between 10km and 15km.

Emphysema - a long-term progressive disease of the lungs that causes shortness of breath - is on the end of the spectrum of what could happen potentially to a smoker.

PUTTING IT IN PERSPECTIVE

Athletes have individual rights to do what they want, but an athlete is committed to excellence, and that commitment - to their sport, their team, and their country, overrides everything.

BEN TAN, Singapore Sailing Federation president, and senior consultant at Changi Sports Medicine Centre.

Tan has seen sufferers panting after just walking across a short aisle, and while athletes who smoke may not show such severe symptoms, their bodies will function better if they quit.

"Athletes have individual rights to do what they want, but an athlete is committed to excellence, and that commitment - to their sport, their team, and their country, overrides everything," said the Singapore Sailing Federation president.

"Smoker athletes in their 20s may feel okay, but from a health standpoint, they should stop, because beyond a certain point, you can't reverse the damage smoking does to your body."

Shamir Osman

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2018, with the headline 'No reason to compromise lung capacity'. Print Edition | Subscribe