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Being a fan can be hazardous to health

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Patriot and Giant fans who get wrapped up in Sunday’s Super Bowl beware – taking it too seriously could cause a heart attack.

Doctors have long suspected a link between sports-watching and heart trouble, but the new report in the New England Journal of Medicine provides some of the most solid evidence to date. An analysis of 4,279 heart patients in Bavaria found that the rate of heart attacks among men was three times greater on days when the German national team was playing [in the 2006 World Cup] than during other periods.

Experts said the lesson for Super Bowl Sunday is clear. Spectators with a known heart condition, they warned, should make an extra effort to relax during games and not overindulge in the usual offerings of alcohol and fatty foods, which can quickly increase the risk of heart attack.

There have been media reports for years of people keeling over while watching their favorite team. In 2006, a Pittsburgh Steelers fan went into cardiac arrest after Jerome Bettis fumbled in a playoff game against the Colts; he survived.

In our book, “The Outsports Revolution,” we noted that being a rabid sports fan had hormonal implications:

Studies have shown that for rabid sports fans, the thrill of watching their favorite team in action can rival a sexual experience. No joke. For many, it's even better than sex. As the New York Times reported: " It has long been assumed that ardent sports fans derive excitement and a sense of community from rooting for a big-time team. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that for some fans, the ties go much deeper. Some researchers have found that fervent fans become so tied to their teams that they experience hormonal surges and other physiological changes while watching games, much as the athletes do. The self-esteem of some male and female fans also rises and falls with a game's outcome, with losses affecting their optimism about everything from getting a date to winning at darts, one study showed." --Jim Buzinski