(Telegraph) Heading footballs causes same brain damage as boxing – major new study
Professional football is as risky as boxing in causing brain damage that can lead to dementia and early death, a major new investigation warns.
Scientists at University College London say years of heading the ball can cause the same type of progressive damage as suffered by heavyweight prizefighters.
They have called for “urgent” widescale research to establish whether repeated sub-concussive head impacts caused by heading may also be prompting dementia in the amateur game.
Meanwhile, the daughter of the former England striker Jeff Astle, who died of a degenerative brain disease aged 59, criticised the football authorities’ “indefensible and disgraceful” response to the issue.
Researchers conducted post-mortem examinations of the brains of five professional players, and one “committed” amateur, who had played for an average of 26 years and who had all suffered from dementia.
They found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can be caused by repeated blows to the head and is a condition known to lead to dementia.
The rate of CTE in the footballers’ brains was greater than the 12 per cent average found in the general population.
The players had also developed dementia around their mid-sixties, an average of ten years earlier than most people afflicted with the incurable disease.