LONDON (Reuters) - Football players are three and a half times more likely to die from neurodegenerative diseases in the head, according to a study by the University of Glasgow.
The study, published on Monday, was commissioned by the FA and the Association of Professional Footballers to assess the medical records of 7,676 players who participated professionally in Scotland between 1900 and 1976.
The players' records were matched to more than 23,000 members of the general population in the study, led by neurologist Dr. Willie Stewart of the University of Glasgow.
"The risk of Alzheimer's disease has increased fivefold, fourfold in motor neuron disease, and twofold in Parkinson's disease in former professional footballers," the study found.
The study showed that although footballers were more likely to die from neurological diseases, they were less likely to die from other common diseases, such as heart disease and some cancers, including lung cancer.
The study, titled "The Impact of Football on Long-Term Health and Dangers of Dementia", found that the mortality rate among former footballers was lower than expected until age 70 and higher than expected at that age.
Stewart spoke of the importance of additional efforts to identify factors that contribute to the risk of developing neurological diseases in former professional players to work to reduce them.
Earlier this year, UEFA had asked to change the rules of the game to reduce pressure on medical staff and give doctors more time to assess head injuries off the pitch so that no player with a concussion would return to play.
"The whole game has to realize that this is just the beginning of our understanding," FA president Greg Clarke said. "There are many questions that still need to be answered. It is important that the global football family now unite to find answers and provide a greater understanding of this complex issue." .
Former GTA CEO Gordon Taylor has been criticized for neglecting the issue, especially by the family of former West Brom striker Jeff Astel, who died in 2002 due to chronic encephalopathy, which has been linked to a header shot.
"Football in the world must unite to address this issue in a comprehensive and unified manner," Taylor said. "The search for answers to questions should be continued and more specific about what needs to be done to identify and reduce risk factors."