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Dementia risk analysed in NFL players

Dementia risk analysed in NFL players
1st October 2009

The sport of American football is much more likely to cause Alzheimer's disease in players than those who have not played the sport, according to a new study.

Research commissioned by the National Football League (NFL) found that the rate of dementia occurring in the brains of ex-sportsmen engaged in the game was 19 times higher for men between the ages of 30 and 49, highlighting a trend which has long been questioned in the US.

This meant that two per cent of former players between these ages said they had been diagnosed with the condition, with retirees over 50 having a raised risk five times higher than non-playing contemporaries.

League officials were given the detailed summary of the scientific claims from the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research earlier in the month, with the full extent of the results filtering through to the press this week.

It is believed that it is due to the hundreds of on-field concussions that are left undiagnosed or untreated across the country each week in all levels of the game, from the professional leagues to college football.

The NFL is now into its fourth week of games, with the Detroit Lions notably breaking a record of 19 straight losses with a Sunday win over the Washington Redskins.

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