Study: College Football Players at Increased Risk of Brain Disorders

A recent report from The Boston Globe’s Michael Silverman highlighted a new study that college football players have an increased risk of brain disorders.

Below is an excerpt from The Boston Globe report.

A new study of the later-life brain disorders of college football players revealed increased risks of degenerative brain diseases consistent with studies that have focused on stricken former NFL players, according to researchers at the Boston University CTE Center in a study published last week in JAMA Network Open.

brain disordersSeniors from the 1964-80 Notre Dame football rosters were five times more likely to report cognitive impairment diagnoses, 2 1/2 times more likely to report recurrent headaches, and 65 percent more likely to have cardiovascular disorders, compared with a representative general-population sample of men of the same age.

And while mortality rates due to degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis were higher than in the general population, the differences did not reach statistical significance, the authors said.

Still, mortality from brain and nervous system cancers was nearly four times higher in the college players than in the general population.

And considering that there are far more ex-college football players — 800,000-plus, with more than a quarter-million over age 60 — than current or former NFL players, the findings are concerning, said Robert Stern, director of clinical research at the BU CTE Center.

“There’s a whole lot of former college football players out there,” said Stern, a corresponding author of the report. “And the growing amount of research evidence indicates that exposure to the repetitive head impacts from playing American football do seem to lead to an increased risk for a variety of brain disorders.

“It’s not just an issue that we have to be concerned about in former NFL players, it’s something that we have to consider as a society, that all of those brain injuries that college football players have gotten may be increasing their risk for a variety of brain disorders and diseases. And we need to consider what the cost/benefit ratio is.”

To read the full story from The Boston Globe, click here