Lifestyle & Belief

NFL players face higher risk of Alzheimer's


A new study shows that NFL players face a higher risk of Alzheimer's later in life.


Kevin C. Cox

A new study following 3,400 long-term NFL players between 1959 and 1988 found that a player's risk of death from Alzheimer's was nearly quadruple that in the general population. 

Everett Lehman, an epidemiologist with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati and lead author of the study published today in the journal Neurology, told Reuters that while other studies have found links between repeat concussion and an increased risk of neurologic disorders, including memory impairment, her study could not conclude this as the cause of the increased risk. 

"Our results are consistent with those from other studies. No one study can make a definitive conclusion about whether concussions cause neurodegenerative disease; the body of literature is what's important," Lehman told ABC. 

The study's results showed that the risk of death from Alzheimer's or ALS was nearly four times higher among former NFLers than non-players. Of the 334 players who died during the study, 27 had neurodegenerative diseases that either caused or contributed to their deaths.

According to Bloomberg, NFL players in “speed positions” such as running backs and wide receivers, are at even higher risk from dying due to a brain disorder. 

Bloomberg also noted that the NFL is currently facing lawsuits from more than 2,000 former players seeking damages for head injuries.

Today the NFL announced it will donate $30 million for medical research to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health specifically to study brain injury and concussion management.