University study finds footballers at risk of dementia

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Credit: Kirsten Colligan

Jordan Hunter
Reporter

A study conducted by the University, and published by theNew England Journal of Medicine,found that footballers were three and a half times more likely to suffer fromneurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. The study was funded by the Football Association and the Professional Footballers Association. Some key findings were that footballers were five times more likely to die of Alzheimer’s and twice as likely to die of Parkinson’s.

There were no significant differences based on position, however, goalkeepers were less likely to get prescriptions. There was also afinding that footballers up to the age of 70actually hada lower mortality rate but had a significantly higher mortality rate after.However, this is probably due to the fact they were less likely to die of heart disease, the second leading cause of death in the UK behind Alzheimer’s. Thetheory that the trend was caused byheaderswasnot confirmed by the study.

Broader questionswere flagged upas the game has been made safer and many of those studied played years ago when the game was different – two-thirdsof those studied were born after 1952. Additionally, all those studied were men, there is no idea if the same results would apply to the women’s game.

The FA Chairman spoke about the study, stating;“The whole game mustrecognisethat this is only the start of our understanding and there are many questions that still need to be answered. It is important that the global football family now unites to find the answers and provide a greater understanding of this complex issue.”

The FA has said they now plan to continue the study and are now encouraging FIFA and UEFA toinvestigate howto make the game safer.