NFL players who began playing before 12 more likely to develop cognitive impairment
Published 28 January 2015
Professional American Football players who began playing the sport before the age of 12 may be more likely to develop cognitive impairment than those who took it up after that age.
'With the Super Bowl fast approaching, this study is a timely reminder of the accumulating evidence linking sports involving frequent head injuries with a possible increase in the risk of developing dementia. However, as this study only looked at cognitive performance in middle age and not at changes in memory, we cannot make any conclusions about whether playing American football in childhood has any effect on dementia risk later on.
There is increasing evidence that playing professional American football may have lasting effects on the brain but these findings should not be generalised to other sports such as soccer or rugby where the research is yet to be done. Parents reading this shouldn't take this study to mean that children under 12 who play those sports are more at risk of dementia.'
Research reference: Stern et al, (2015). Age of first exposure to football and later-life cognitive impairment in former NFL players. Published in Neurology on Wednesday 28 January 2015.
Notes to editors:
- 225,000 will develop dementia this year, that's one every three minutes
- Alzheimer's Society research shows that 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia. In less than ten years a million people will be living with dementia. This will soar to two million people by 2051
- Dementia costs the UK economy over £26 Billion per year. This is the equivalent of more than £30,000 per person with dementia.
- Alzheimer's Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and the millions of people who care for them
- Alzheimer's Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
- Alzheimer's Society supports people to live well with dementia today and funds research to find a cure for tomorrow. We rely on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or visiting alzheimers.org.uk
- Alzheimer's Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0300 222 11 22 or visit alzheimers.org.uk
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