A new study has found that retired football players may have a greater risk of mild cognitive impairment, which is a potential precursor to Alzheimer's disease. Additionally, another study has found that military veterans who suffered a traumatic brain injury had more than twice the risk of developing dementia, which may lead to higher life insurance costs.
"Traumatic head injury is the best known environmental risk for late-life dementia," said Dr. Sam Gandy, a professor of neurology and psychiatry and associate director of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in New York City, who was not involved with either study.
Doctors discovered that contact sports and exposure to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have contributed to late life dementia. During the football study researchers found that 35 percent of players had signs of possible mild cognitive impairment. The players had similar impairments to non-athletes, but were much younger and slightly less impaired than the others.
It would appear that football may lead to the earlier onset of degenerative diseases, but researchers were hesitant to draw any major conclusions from the study.