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With the torch now extinguished at Sydney, here's some interesting Olympic trivia for you: More than 20 percent of the U.S. athletes who competed in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, indicated a history of asthma or use of asthma medication, according to researchers in a recent issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

If that number seems oddly high, you're right. These figures are higher than the percentage of people with asthma in the general population. In fact, only 4 percent to 7 percent of Americans suffer from the disorder. Furthermore, asthma was more common among the athletes competing in Nagano than athletes who took part in earlier Summer Games.

So what does this all mean? Well, the researchers believe that their findings suggest that environment could play a role in activity that triggers asthma. For example, 60.7 percent of the athletes who competed in Nordic combined, cross-country and short track events reported asthma, compared to 24 percent in alpine, long track, figure skating, snow boarding or curling, and 2.8 percent in bobsled, biathlon, luge and ski jumping.

The study does offer some good news: People with asthma can become successful competitive athletes.

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