Higher neurodegenerative disease mortality in former footballers

  • Mackay DF & al.
  • N Engl J Med
  • 21 Oct 2019

  • curated by Pavankumar Kamat
  • UK Medical News
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According to a new research published in The New England Journal of Medicine, former professional football players may have a substantially higher risk of dying from neurodegenerative diseases.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow conducted a comparative analysis of mortality causes between 7676 former male professional football players from Scotland and >23,000 matched individuals from the general population.

The findings showed that former professional footballers had a nearly three and a half times higher mortality rate because of neurodegenerative diseases than expected. Among specific disease subtypes, the mortality risk in former professional footballers was five-fold higher for Alzheimer’s disease, four-fold for motor neurone disease and two-fold for Parkinson’s disease than the general population. It was also found that although former footballers had an increased risk for death from neurodegenerative disease, they had a lower likelihood of dying from other common conditions, such as heart disease and some cancers.

Dr Willie Stewart from the University of Glasgow said: "Whilst every effort must be made to identify the factors contributing to the increased risk of neurodegenerative disease to allow this risk to be reduced, there are also wider potential health benefits of playing football to be considered."