A new study has found that former professional footballers who headed the ball the most during their careers have an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. The study, conducted by the University of Glasgow and published in the journal Brain, analyzed the medical records of over 7,000 former professional footballers in Scotland.

Study Finds Ex-Footballers Who Frequently Headed the Ball at Increased Risk of Developing Dementia
Study Finds Ex-Footballers Who Frequently Headed the Ball at Increased Risk of Developing Dementia

The study found that former footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die from neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia than the general population. The risk was highest among players who frequently headed the ball, with those in the top 10% of headers being at five times greater risk of developing dementia than those in the bottom 10%.

Study Finds Ex-Footballers Who Frequently Headed the Ball at Increased Risk of Developing Dementia
Study Finds Ex-Footballers Who Frequently Headed the Ball at Increased Risk of Developing Dementia

The study’s lead author, Dr. Willie Stewart, said that the findings were “concerning” and called for more research to be done into the long-term effects of heading the ball. “These findings show that there is a clear link between heading the ball and an increased risk of developing dementia,” he said. “We need to do more to understand the risks and take steps to protect players.”

Study Finds Ex-Footballers Who Frequently Headed the Ball at Increased Risk of Developing Dementia
Study Finds Ex-Footballers Who Frequently Headed the Ball at Increased Risk of Developing Dementia

The study has prompted calls for greater action to be taken to protect footballers from the risks of heading the ball. Some have called for a ban on heading in youth football, while others have suggested limiting the number of headers allowed in professional football.

Study Finds Ex-Footballers Who Frequently Headed the Ball at Increased Risk of Developing Dementia
Study Finds Ex-Footballers Who Frequently Headed the Ball at Increased Risk of Developing Dementia

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has said that it will examine the study’s findings and work with football authorities to address the issue. “This is an important study that adds to the growing body of evidence on the potential risks of heading the ball in football,” said PFA Chief Executive, Gordon Taylor. “We will work with the football authorities to ensure that the appropriate measures are taken to protect the health and wellbeing of players.”

Study Finds Ex-Footballers Who Frequently Headed the Ball at Increased Risk of Developing Dementia
Study Finds Ex-Footballers Who Frequently Headed the Ball at Increased Risk of Developing Dementia

The study is the latest in a series of research projects examining the long-term effects of playing football. Previous studies have found links between football and an increased risk of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.

The findings of the study are likely to be of concern to footballers and fans alike. The sport has long been associated with the risk of injury and other health problems, and the latest study highlights the need for greater efforts to be made to protect players from these risks.

Study Finds Ex-Footballers Who Frequently Headed the Ball at Increased Risk of Developing Dementia
Study Finds Ex-Footballers Who Frequently Headed the Ball at Increased Risk of Developing Dementia

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