For the first time researchers are saying there is a link between football and alzheimer's disease.
In a new study just released by UCLA, five former NFL players who returned to the game after suffering concussions were found to have have the same abnormal brain proteins that are also found in Alzheimer's patients.
"This protein accumulating means brain cell death," explains neurologist Dr. Frederick Schaerf.
Each player suffered one or more concussion years ago and are now suffering from memory problems.
The study used a new form of brain imaging to see that damage.
"It's exciting that we have two tools now that are diagnostic that can potentially look at people much earlier and possibly look at their risk factors based on the scans," Dr. Schaerf says.
Those risk factors can start as teens, but that doesn't mean parents should pull their kids from contact sports.
"What we don't want to do is say that football gives you Alzheimer's disease, but what we do know is that repeated blows to the brain can be a risk factors, but obviously not everyone who plays football doesn't get Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Schaerf explains. "We have to wait and see what a larger number of people who are screened are and what's significant."
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