From Medical Xpress:

Scientists have recently found evidence that professional football players are susceptible to a progressive degenerative disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is caused by repetitive brain trauma. Now, researchers on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus have discovered a significant and surprising amount of CTE in males who had participated in amateur contact sports in their youth.

About one-third of these men whose brains had been donated to the Mayo Clinic Brain Bank had evidence of CTE pathology. CTE only can be diagnosed posthumously.

The Mayo study, published in the December issue of Acta Neuropathologica, links amateur —football, boxing, wrestling, rugby, basketball, baseball and others played while in school—with the development of CTE, which when severe can affect mood, behavior and cognition.

“The 32 percent of CTE we found in our brain bank is surprisingly high for the frequency of neurodegenerative pathology within the general population,” says the study’s lead author, Kevin Bieniek, a predoctoral student in Mayo Graduate School’s Neurobiology of Disease program.

“If 1 in 3 individuals who participate in a contact sport goes on to develop CTE pathology, this could present a real challenge down the road,” Bieniek says. It remains to be determined if the brain changes produce any observable effects on behavior or cognition of the former athletes.

This study is the first to use CTE neuropathologic criteria established by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) earlier this year to look for incidence of the disease in nonprofessional athletes, says the study’s…

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