Shillong, Oct 22: A study conducted in Scotland has found that ex-footballers are three and a half times more likely to die of dementia than people of comparable ages in the general population.

Dementia is a category of brain disease that results in a decrease in the ability to think and remember. It is more likely to occur as people age. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.

The large study involved comparing the deaths of more than 7,500 ex-professional footballers in Scotland to those of 23,000 people in the general population between 1900 and 1976.

It is suspected that continually heading a football can cause trauma to the brain, which leads to the increase in dementia cases among footballers. However, footballers are otherwise usually more healthy than the general population and are less likely to die of heart disease or various cancers, the research found.

The study only goes up to the year 1976 and footballs have become a lot lighter in weight since then, especially compared to the old natural leather balls used in the past.

The study began after authorities claimed that former footballer Jeff Astle’s death (in 2002 at the age of 59) due to dementia had been, in part, due to repeatedly heading heavy leather balls during his career. BBC Sport published a fuller explanation of the findings of the research last night.

Speaking about the findings, Football Association chairman Greg Clarke was quoted as saying: “The whole game must recognise this is only the start of our understanding and there are many questions that still need to be answered. It is important the global football family now unites to find the answers and provide a greater understanding of this complex issue. The FA is committed to doing all it can to make that happen.”

(TSR representative photo)

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