Wednesday, February 15, 2017
New study finds potential link between dementia and heading in football.
Footballers who repeatedly head the ball can end up suffering from dementia, new findings have suggested, prompting calls for more research into a long-suspected issue in the sport. A potential cause of dementia thought to arise from blows to the head has, for the first time, been confirmed in a group of retired footballers following a small study. The results provide a platform for a “pressing research question” on whether dementia is more common in footballers than the general population, the authors said. Dawn Astle, daughter of former England and West Brom striker Jeff Astle, who died of a degenerative brain disease in 2002 aged 59, said such findings are no surprise. The brains of six of the 14 retired players involved in the research — none of whom have been identified — underwent post-mortem examinations and four were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) pathology, while all six had signs of Alzheimer’s disease. CTE can cause dementia and, like Alzheimer’s, is characterised by a buildup of abnormal tau protein in the brain. The rate of CTE detected in the footballers’ brains was greater than the 12 percent average found in a previous study which looked at 268 brains from the general population. The results show more research is urgently needed in the area, Professor Huw Morris of UCL Institute of Neurology said, but he cautioned the risk for people who enjoy playing football in their spare time is likely to be low. source