New research shows that professional football players may be at a higher risk of death from diseases that damage the cells in the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease and ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), compared to the general U.S. population. The study is published in the September 5, 2012, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study included 3,439 players with an average age of 57 from the National Football League with at least five playing seasons from 1959-1988. Researchers reviewed death certificates for causes of death from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and ALS. At the time of the analysis, only 10 percent of the participants had passed away.
The research found that professional football players in this study were three times more likely to die as a result of diseases that damage brain cells compared to the general population. A player’s risk of death from Alzheimer’s disease or ALS was almost four times higher than the general population. Of the 334 who died, seven had Alzheimer’s disease and seven had ALS. The risk of dying from Parkinson’s disease was not significantly different than that of the general population.
H/T Karen Merzenich