Study shows link between footb...

Sport

Study shows link between football and deaths caused by dementia


An alarming new study by Glasgow University has made a clear link between football and dementia and other neurological diseases. 

Those of you who remember the 'Fantasy Football' cult television programme hosted by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel in the 1990's may recall an item where Jeff Astle, the former West Bromwich Albion and England striker, would sing at the end of the show.

Astle was a hero in his own right, scoring the winning goal in the 1968 FA Cup Final.

In 2002, he died at the young age of 59 from degeneration of the brain caused by repeated head trauma, caused by heading footballs during his life.

Glasgow University has completed a 22 month study into the deaths of 7676 footballers who played in Scotland between 1900 and 1976, compared to 23,000 of the general population.

The study found a five-fold increase in Alzheimer's disease, a four-fold increase in motor neurone disease and a two-fold increase in Parkinson's disease compared to the general population.

These conditions could have resulted from the heading of heavy leather footballs, and although the footballs today are lighter and the game has changed, there will now be an English FA led research task force on the matter.

Heading is less prevalent in football, with Premier League goals scored by the head dropping from 23 percent in 1996 to 17 percent last season. There are also far less crosses per game.

However, the medical issues around this subject are food for thought and worth further investigation when it comes to other sports, especially rugby, where the propensity for concussions is higher.

Medicine and governance led safety around head trauma is far superior now, but let's hope every step is taken so the sports stars of today do not endure serious health issues in later life.



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