Footballers at increased risk of developing dementia, study finds | world news

Footballers are one and a half times more likely to develop dementia than the general population, according to a new study.

Swedish researchers compared the health records of 6,007 elite male soccer players – 510 of whom were goalkeepers – with 56,168 non-soccer players between 1924 and 2019.

The team, from the Karolinska Institutet and other research centers, published their study in the respected peer-reviewed medical journal, The Lancet.

It revealed that 9% of the footballers included had been diagnosed with neurodegenerative diseasecompared to 6% (3,485 of 56,168) of the control sample.

According to the study, there was no significant increase in the risk for footballers of contracting motor neuron disease.

The risk of Parkinson’s disease and overall mortality was also lower in soccer players compared to other people, the researchers found.

The academics behind the study suggested it could be “because of maintaining physical fitness by playing football frequently”.

The study also compared the risk of neurodegenerative disease among outfield players and goalkeepers. It revealed that outfield players had a 1.4 times higher risk of neurodegenerative disease than goalkeepers.

Peter Ueda, assistant professor at Karolinska Institutet, said: “Goalkeepers rarely direct the ball, unlike outfield players, but are exposed to similar environments and lifestyles during their football career and can -be also after their retirement.

“It has been hypothesized that repetitive mild head trauma to the ball head is the reason football players are at increased risk, and it could be that the difference in risk of neurodegenerative disease between these two types of players supports this theory.”

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In recent years, there have been growing concerns about exposure to traumatic brain injury in football and whether this may lead to an increased risk of neurodegenerative disease later in life.

A previous Scottish study suggested footballers were 3.5 times more likely to develop a neurodegenerative disease.

As a result of this evidence, some football associations have implemented measures to reduce the cap in younger age groups and training environments.

Mr Ueda added: “Although the increase in risk in our study is slightly lower than in the previous study carried out in Scotland, it confirms that elite footballers have a greater risk of neurogenerative disease later in life. the life.

“As there are growing calls within sport for greater measures to protect brain health, our study adds to the limited evidence base and can be used to guide decisions about how to manage these risks.

The Football Association is currently trialling banning children under 12 from heading the ball in grassroots leagues and competitions in England.

Sky news

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