Aug 15, 2023
Study links football to higher odds of Parkinson’s disease

Adult males who played football were associated with higher odds of self-reported Parkinson’s disease, according to a recent study.

Researchers from Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center examined 1,875 adult males who participated in sports, 729 of whom played football. Hannah J. Bruce, MS, senior research assistant, along with her colleagues said the length of play and the level of play are both associated with higher odds of Parkinson’s disease.

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“Exposure to repetitive head impact is the primary risk factor for the neurodegenerative tauopathy chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” Bruce wrote in JAMA Network Open. “Chronic traumatic encephalopathy has been pathologically diagnosed in former football players, soccer, ice hockey, and rugby players.”

A recent story from detailed the study’s findings and the rate of Parkinson’s disease in other athletes.

Below is an excerpt from the story.

Bruce and fellow researchers sought to evaluate associations between participation in American-style football and self-reported parkinsonism or actual Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

Their cross-sectional study included data from 1,875 adult males (mean age, 67.69 years), split into those who played football (n = 729) and those who played other sports (n = 1,146) as a reference group that completes online questionnaires regarding diagnosis of PD or parkinsonism by health care professionals as part of the Fox Insight study. The Boston University Repetitive Head Impact Exposure Assessment was launched in November 2020 within Fox Insight for additional data collection on head impact from both contact and non-contact sports.

Researchers utilized logistic regression to analyze associations between PD status and history and duration of football play, highest level played, as well as age at first exposure while controlling for a range of socioeconomic and health factors.

Among the control group, the most common non-football sports were soccer (n = 444), ice hockey (n = 172), amateur wrestling (n = 115) and boxing (n = 92).

Results showed that a history of playing football was associated with higher odds of having a parkinsonism or PD diagnosis (OR= 1.61; 95% CI, 1.19-2.17) than non-football players, while longer duration of play for any sport among the entire sample was associated with higher odds of parkinsonism or PD diagnosis (OR = 1.12; 95% CI, 1.06-1.19).

Additionally, longer duration (OR = 1.12; 95% CI, 1.02-1.23) and higher level of play (OR = 2.93; 95% CI, 1.28-6.73) were associated with higher odds of having a diagnosis of parkinsonism or PD specifically among those who played football.

To read the full story from, click here. 

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