A study commissioned by the NFL has found Alzheimer's Disease and other memory-related illness occurred more frequently among ex-players, as much as 19 times the national average for men between the ages of 30-49. While the league has long denied there was any reliable correlation between the sport and memory-loss—and, in fact, stop short of endorsing the findings of this very study—it is the closest thing to an admission that there may be some correlation between diminished cognitive function and the violence of the sport. From The New York Times:
The findings could ring loud at the youth and college levels, which often take cues from the N.F.L. on safety policies and whose players emulate the pros. Hundreds of on-field concussions are sustained at every level each week, with many going undiagnosed and untreated.
A detailed summary of the N.F.L. study, which was conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, was distributed to league officials this month.
The study has not been peer-reviewed, but the findings fall into step with several recent independent studies regarding N.F.L. players and the effects of their occupational head injuries.
“This is a game-changer — the whole debate, the ball’s now in the N.F.L.’s court,” said Dr. Julian Bailes, the chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, and a former team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers whose research found similar links four years ago. “They always say, ‘We’re going to do our own studies.’ And now they have.”
Sean Morey, an Arizona Cardinals player who has been vocal in supporting research in this area, said: “This is about more than us — it’s about the high school kid in 2011 who might not die on the field because he ignored the risks of concussions.”
Of course the league is going to stay mum as long as they can. Revenue dollars come a little harder when you can be classified as a leading cause of Alzheimer's. The Buzz isn't a doctor or anything, but repeatedly collisions at a high rate of speed just can't be good for the old bean.