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Study finds higher mortality from dementia among former pro soccer players

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We may already hear about an association between head impact during contact sports and dementia. During contact sport, the head can be inevitably knocked and damaged, raising the risk for dementia, which is a kind of neurodegenerative disease.

A good example is boxing which was reported to be linked to an increased risk for neurodegenerative diseases.

Likewise, soccer players, who frequently use their heads for shooting, may also face the same problem, which has been found in many studies.

Researchers from different institutions in Glasgow, United Kingdom, collaboratively investigated the neurodegenerative disease mortality among former Scottish profession soccer players, finding that they are more likely to die of dementia. The study was published in the New English Journal of Medicine.

The study compared mortality from neurodegenerative disease among 7676 former professional soccer players with that of among 23,028 controls qualified in terms of sex, age, and degree of social deprivation. They collected data from the related database over a median of 19 years.

It is shown in statistical analysis that neurodegenerative disease was the primary cause of death among former professional soccer players, accounting for 1.7 percent of all deaths, while the figure among controls is small, only 0.5 percent.

More specifically, researchers found that among former players dying of neurogenerative diseases, they were found to be most likely to die of Alzheimer’s disease and least likely to die of Parkinson’s disease.

Another finding of the study that former players enjoyed lower all-cause mortality, ischemic heart disease, and lung cancer. This result is just as expected since numerous studies have concluded that physical activities have positive impacts on lifelong health, including reducing all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease.

The study suggests that elite soccer athletes have higher mortality for neurodegenerative diseases than the general population.

You should not be scared to play soccer, knowing this finding. Researchers have warned that the study doesn’t be applied to recreational and amateur players.

For professional soccer players, the head impact can be hardly avoided during contact sports. When athletes have concussions or head injury, they shall not return to matches immediately, which otherwise may cause secondary brain injury.

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