Football is a dangerous sport and can take its toll on nearly every bone, muscle, and organ in the body. But recently, scientists have become particularly concerned about the brain. They’ve found that high impact sports, particularly football, have the potential to cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease. Now, scientists have published one of the most definitive studies on CTE’s connection to football thus far: Of 202 brains of deceased former football players examined, 87 percent showed signs of CTE. Of the 111 study subjects who'd played for the NFL, all but one had CTE. The results, which were published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), represent the most convincing evidence linking CTE to football to date.
What is CTE and why is it so controversial?CTE is a degenerative disease, meaning that its effects accumulate over time. Unlike a concussion, which is just one single trauma to the head, CTE happens from repeated blows—each one not necessarily strong enough to be considered a concussion, but intense all the same. These blows cause a protein called tau to build up in the noggin. As tau spreads, it kills brain cells.
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