Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "
Peak young, die young
Elite athletes who achieve their personal records at a relatively young age die years before elite athletes who peak at a later age. Dutch longevity researchers write about this in Aging.
The researchers confined themselves to track and field athletes. They performed two analyses: one in which they looked at all the athletes, and one in which they eliminated all athletes who died before the age of fifty from their data sets. Both analyses produced the same results.
The number of female Olympic athletes in that period was still low, so the researchers think their results only say something about men.
A stronger correlation can be seen in the figure on the right above. Olympic athletes who achieved their personal records at a young age died years younger than athletes who achieved their personal records later in life.
The average age at which the athletes achieved their records was 24.
"It is less likely that these direct costs explain the observed trade-off between early and extraordinary physical performance and longevity, since we showed a similar trade off when analyzing residual life expectancy from age 50."
"This finding supports the idea that early and extraordinary peak performance comes with a higher pace of ageing. It is tempting to speculate about the underlying biological mechanisms of this developmental constraint."
"Some have suggested that growth and subsequently, larger size, result in a body which costs more energy to maintain, explaining the higher pace of ageing. The mTOR pathway, which regulates growth in early life and pace of ageing in late life, is a potential molecular pathway that can explain for the observed trade off."
"Others have suggested that hormonal regulation of development and maintenance could play a role, as has been observed for the GH-IGF signaling pathway explaining the size-life span trade off in domestic dogs, and the muscle mass immune competence trade-off mediated by testosterone observed in primates and other species."
"All mechanistic explanations are plausible and it needs to be studied which pathways are causal, and at which we can intervene to secure longer and healthier lives."
Probably not much good.