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Dementia Risk Higher for NFL Players
Date:9/30/2009

Ex-players aged 30 to 49 are 19 times more likely to have memory problems, survey found

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Former professional football players suffer from Alzheimer's disease or other memory-related conditions at rates far higher than the general population, a new study commissioned by the National Football League shows.

And retired players between the ages of 30 and 49 are 19 times more likely to struggle with memory problems than similarly aged men who never played professional football, the study found.

The findings could have implications that reach far beyond the National Football League, which has said in the past that there's no reliable research to establish the proof of cognitive problems among former players.

Head injuries are not uncommon among college and high school players. University of Florida star quarterback Tim Tebow, the best collegiate player in the nation last year, suffered a head injury during a game on Saturday that briefly left him unconscious on the field. He continued to undergo post-concussion tests Tuesday.

And a study published last year in The American Journal of Sports Medicine examined severe head injuries among high school football players between 1989 and 2002. The researchers found that high school players had more than triple the risk of sustaining catastrophic head trauma compared to college players. High school athletes suffered 0.67 such injuries per 100,000 players, compared with 0.21 injuries per 100,000 college players.

The new study of former pro players has not been peer-reviewed, but the results mirror several other recent studies suggesting a link between dementia and head injuries. The results of the study, conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, were first reported Wednesday by The New York Times.

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