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Playing football increases risk for Parkinsons disease: Study

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Boston | August 13, 2023 11:12:03 AM IST
Early detection of Parkinson's disease (PD) necessitates the identification of risk factors. Parkinson's disease and parkinsonisman umbrella term for motor symptoms seen in Parkinson's disease and other conditionshave been observed in boxers since the 1920s.

Repetitive head hits in tacklefootballcan also result in long-term neurological repercussions such aschronic traumatic encephalopathy(CTE). However, data on the link between tacklefootballactivity and Parkinson's disease is sparse.

Researchers from the BU CTE Centre used a large online data set of people concerned about having PD to conduct the largest study to describe the association between participation infootballand the odds of having a reported diagnosis of PD. They discovered that participants with a history of playing organised tacklefootballhad a 61% increased odds of having a reportedparkinsonismor PD diagnosis.

In this study, the researchers evaluated 1,875 sports participants 729 men who played football, predominantly at the amateur level, and 1,146 men who played non-football sports who served as the control group. Participants were enrolled in Fox Insight, a longitudinal online study of people with and without PD sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research.

Notably, researchers found a link between playingfootballand increased odds for having aparkinsonismor PD diagnosis even after accounting for known risk factors for PD. Additionally, the data revealed that players who had longer careers and played at higher levels of competition experienced increased odds for having a reported diagnosis ofparkinsonismor PD. Football players who played at the college or professional level were at 2.93 increased odds for having a PD diagnosis compared with those who just played at the youth or high school level. Age of first exposure tofootballwas not associated with odds for having a reportedparkinsonismor PD diagnosis.

Playing tacklefootballcould be a contributing risk factor to PD, particularly among people already at risk due to other factors (e.g., family history). However, the reasons for this relationship are not clear and we also know that not everyone who plays tacklefootballwill develop later-life neurological conditions, meaning many other risk factors are at play, says corresponding author Michael L. Alosco, PhD, associate professor of neurology at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine.

The researchers also emphasized that they compared thefootballplayers to another group ofathletes, a noteworthy strength of the study. Furthermore, most of the participants played tacklefootballonly at the amateur level, which is contrast to most of the research to date that has focused on professionalathletes.

Previous research has focused on the association between Americanfootballand risk for CTE. However, similar to what has historically been seen in boxers, Americanfootballmight also affect risk for other neurodegenerative conditions such as PD, says Hannah Bruce, MSc, first author and research specialist at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine. (ANI)

 
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