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Parkinson’s Risk for American Football Players – Medicine

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Parkinson’s Risk for American Football Players – Medicine

Another clue to the link between contact sports and neurodegenerative diseases: a study coordinated by Boston University and published in the journal Jama Network Open shows that American football players have an increased risk of getting Parkinson’s disease over the course of life, which grows the more increases the duration of sports practice and the level of play.

The issue of the consequences of repeated head injuries that can occur in some sports has long been the subject of scientific research. A form of brain tissue degeneration, ‘chronic traumatic encephalopathy, has been diagnosed in former football, soccer, ice hockey and rugby players,’ the researchers write. Similar links have been found with forms of dementia.

The study has now focused on the relationship between playing American football and Parkinson’s disease, involving 1,875 people, 729 of whom had played the sport to varying degrees. It found that on average, former players had a 61% higher risk of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s; risk which increased in relation to the duration of the sporting activity (+12% for each season played).

Furthermore, for those who had reached professionalism the probabilities grew further reaching almost 300% more risk.

For the researchers, “the results suggest that playing American football could be a risk factor for the development of parkinsonism or Parkinson’s disease.” While the focus is often on the pros, they add, “studying people who play at the lower levels is of another priority, because most people play at the high school and college levels.”

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