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Male footballers are 50% more likely to develop neurodegenerative disease, finds Swedish study

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 17 March 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p641
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

Elite male footballers were 1.5 times as likely to develop neurodegenerative disease as population controls, found a study of men who played in Sweden’s top division from 1924 to 2019.1

The observational study, published in Lancet Public Health, found that 8.9% of players (537 of 6007) and 6.2% (3485 of 56 168) in the control group were given a diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease. The study, which used Sweden’s national health records, reported that football players had a 1.6% (95% confidence interval 1.47 to 1.78) higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias than the controls, with 8% of footballers and 5% of controls receiving these diagnoses.

However, it found no significantly increased risk of motor neuron disease. The risk of Parkinson’s disease was lower among football players, and overall mortality was slightly lower among footballers (40%) than the control group …

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