Carolina Panthers' Dan Morgan looks out from the bench during a preseason NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., in this Aug. 24, 2007 photo. The former Panthers linebacker and Pro Bowl pick suffered at least five concussions in his career, which does not tie him specifically to a possibility of dementia later in life, but can't help. (AP)
For those of you who have never appreciated how violent and life-changing the game of professional football can be for the men who play it, here's another sobering reminder.
A new study suggests retired National Football League players may have a high rate of Alzheimer's disease or other memory problems. The telephone survey asked if the retirees had ever been diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer's disease or other memory-related disease. Nearly 2 percent of the former players ages 30 to 49 said yes. That's 19 times the rate for the same age group in the general population.
For retirees over 50, the rate was about five times higher.
That's another consequence to a group that already suffers from a staggering array of post-retirement maladies, including severe arthritis, problems with the knees and legs in general, debilitating hand injuries and an array of other problems.
Lead author David Weir emphasized the results don't show football causes memory problems, only that the risk is worth studying. The study of more than 1,000 ex-players was performed by the University of Michigan at the request of the NFL and its Player Care Foundation.
Higher risk of dementia seen in NFL players (NYT)