A new study suggests professional football players are more likely to die from degenerative brain diseases and heart problems than baseball players.
What may seem evident is appearing unknown for researchers who say they can’t find a reason explaining why football players are more susceptible to brain injury and heart issues. Football players are usually larger in size and endure repeated blows to the head and body. However, researchers say they don’t have enough information on family history, genetics, and lifestyle, which all affect risks for certain diseases and death.
The study used 6,100 athletes born between before 1965, who competed for at least five seasons in the NFL or Major League Baseball and who died between 1979 through 2013. In the selection of players, there were 517 deaths at an average age of 60. That compares with 431 deaths at age 67 on average among baseball players, NBC news reports.
Marc Weisskopf from Harvard’s public health school led the researchers and states their results may be “limited to NFL players in the playing years considered because there have been changes in sports characteristics over time, such as helmet use, training regimen, and smoking prevalence.” Weisskopf says the studies needed more to find specifics on the differences they found.
There have been 39 brain-disease related deaths compared to MLB’s 16 deaths, which means football players are at a greater risk by three times. Heart disease caused or contributed to 498 deaths among NFL players, more than double the 225 deaths among the baseball group.