New Study Finds Pro Soccer Players More Likely to Die of Dementia

The study also found players are less likely to die from heart disease and lung cancer

New Study Finds Pro Soccer Players More Likely to Die of Dementia
Lewis Dunk somehow gets his head on the ball. (Daniel Hambury/PA Images via Getty)
By Evan Bleier / October 21, 2019 9:59 am

Researchers at Glasgow University have determined that the American version isn’t the only type of football that leads to serious health problems.

A new study commissioned by the Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association has found professional soccer players are 3.5 times more likely to die of dementia than people of the same age range who do not play pro soccer.

To reach that finding, researchers compared the deaths of 7,676 men who played professional football in Scotland between 1900 and 1976 to 23,000 men of the same age from the general population.

The study found ex-players are five times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and two times more likely to suffer from Parkinson’s disease. But it also found former players are less likely to die from other diseases such as heart disease and lung cancer.

“These findings are a matter of considerable importance to our members. We are grateful to Dr. Willie Stewart and his team for their work,” said Professional Footballers Association chief executive Gordon Taylor. “It is now incumbent on football globally to come together to address this issue in a comprehensive and united manner. Research must continue to answer more specific questions about what needs to be done to identify and reduce risk factors. Our members’ wellbeing is of paramount importance to us, and we are committed to representing their voice as this conversation opens up across football’s stakeholders.”

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