Jun 21, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Football Headers May Lead to Dementia Later In Life

Feb 16, 2017 06:32 PM EST


Football players are at risk of having dementia when they grow older. A recent study linked brain damage to a very familiar move that players make, the header.

BBC reports that it is actually the repeated blows to the head that can cause damage to the brain. UK scientists based their tentative findings on anecdotal reports. One such story comes from Dawn Astle.

Her father is Jeff Astle, a former striker from England and West Brom. Jeff died from early onset dementia at the young age of 59, and his daughter believes that the sickness he got can be linked to his career as a football player. He was diagnosed four years prior to his death, despite being physically fit. By the end of his life, his daughter says that he doesn't even remember ever playing football.

Scientists from Cardiff University and University College London studied the brains of five individuals who were all professional football players at an average of 26 years. All of them developed dementia in the 60s.Their findings saw signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) or brain injury. This is something common in contact sports and has been linked to not only dementia but memory loss and depression as well.

Prof Huw Morris, of University College London has this to say, "When we examined their brains at autopsy we saw the sorts of changes that are seen in ex-boxers, the changes that are often associated with repeated brain injury which is known as CTE." He says this is the first time that a head injury they received when they were younger could develop into dementia.

The researchers admit that their findings are not clear-cut, as there may be several factors that could have led to the CTE in the brains of the deceased players. Goal reports that the Football Association promised to investigate the findings of the study further.

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