SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Those cycling in San Francisco don’t only have to dodge oncoming traffic, which can always be a challenge. Now, new research out of Canada shows that cycling can also increase the risk of heart disease.

In the study published last month in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers found a link between cycling in heavy traffic and heart health risk.

KCBS’ Tim Ryan Reports:

While the study does not suggest that bikers would be better off driving, it does put their exposure to pollution under the magnifying glass.

Many cyclists in San Francisco said they can feel it, especially on a busy thoroughfare like Market Street, where big buses and trucks are frequently passing by.

The study found that that carbon buildup in your lungs can leave a cyclist with a variable heart rate for as long as three hours after a ride

Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said that this news should not sway people from getting on their bikes.

“The health benefits far outweigh the risks of bicycling. We know that according to the Centers for Disease Control, the positive benefits to heart health, physical stamina, muscle health and even mental health far outweigh the negative,” said Shahum.

The study found that the proximity to tailpipes is one of the main reasons cyclists have a high exposure to tiny particle pollutants.

Researchers said the best solution is to try to avoid busy streets, where pollution tends to be the highest.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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