Study finds ex-footballers are 3.5 times more likely to die of dementia than general population
Former professional footballers are three-and-a-half times more likely to die of dementia than the general population, a study has found.
The FA and the PFA enlisted experts at the University of Glasgow to research incidence of degenerative neurocognitive disease in ex-professional footballers.
This investigation came after claims former West Brom striker Jeff Astle died due to repeated head trauma.
The study compared 7,676 men who played professional football in Scotland, of which 1,180 have since passed away, against a sample of 23,028 men from the general population.
“On average, the former professional footballers in this study lived three and a quarter years longer and were less likely to die of many diseases such as heart disease or lung cancer,” the FA statement said regarding the study.
“However, they were more likely to die of dementia. The research found that the health records of 11% of the former footballers who had passed away stated that they had died from dementia, compared to around 3% for the socio-demographically matched sample.
" The study showed through statistical analysis on the full data set that the professional footballers in this research were around 3.5 times more likely to die of dementia than the matched population."
“However, overall, this group of former professional footballers did not on average die earlier of dementia than dementia sufferers in the general population.”
Jeff AstleFrom Official Website
The findings could not definitely conclude that heading a football causes increased rates of dementia.
However, it has been recommended that current FA Concussion Guidelines should be re-issued, as well as the best-practice advice for coaching heading.
“It's now incumbent on the wider game to gain a greater understanding of the potential cause for the link with dementia and whether or not the results from this historic group of former professional footballers relates, in any way, to the modern-day professional footballer,” the statement added.
" We've written to both FIFA and UEFA to offer our full support on future research in this area, as well as share the findings of the FIELD study with them."
The statement concluded with: “Dementia is a terrible illness and we're committed to doing everything possible to better understand the issues and get the answers needed.”