CogniFit's Science blog: NFL Players May Have A Higher Risk For Alzheimer's

NFL Players May Have A Higher Risk For Alzheimer's

A study by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, that was commissioned by the National Football League has found that NFL players are 19 times more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other memory-related diseases than the rest of the population.

Hundreds of on field concussions happen every week in high school, college and pro games. Many of these concussions go undiagnosed and untreated. The brain trauma associated with the concussions may be a contributing factor to the high rate of memory-related diseases.

The study has not been peer reviewed but the results are very much in line with several recent independent studies looking into NFL players and the effects of their “occupational head injuries.”

The NFL is conducting its own survey of 120 retired players and results are expected in a few years. The Michigan study was conducted through a telephone survey. It showed that some health issues were reported as being at normal rates (kidney and prostate problems), while others were higher (sleep apnea and elevated cholesterol) and others at lower rates (heart attacks and ulcers).

Players over 50 had a dementia-related diagnosis five times higher than the national average. Players age 30-49 showed a rate 19 times higher than that of the national average.

The study may have a ripple effect. If the NFL decides to take some kind of action to protect players more from head injuries, such changes would most probably take place in high school and college teams as well. Options and regulations are already being discussed by different states.