Even if you dont play contact sports you could develop signs of

first_img Graphic: N. DESAI/SCIENCE; Data: J. Mez et al., JAMA, 360, 318, 2017; K. Bieniek et al., Brain Pathology, https://doi.org/10.1111/bpa.12757 H. Ling et al., Acta Neuropathologica, 891, 130 2015 Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe/Getty Images Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) National Football League (NFL) players 99.1%7.9%11.8%5%1.3%87.6% Scientists looking for a link between repeated brain trauma and lasting neurological damage typically study the brains of soldiers or football players. But it’s unclear whether this damage—known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)—is prevalent in the general population. Now, a new study reports those rates for the first time.To conduct the research, neuropathologist Kevin Bieniek, then at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, and colleagues sorted through nearly 3000 brains donated to the clinic’s Rochester, Minnesota, tissue registry between 2005 and 2016. Then, by scanning obituaries and old yearbooks, the researchers narrowed the group to 300 athletes who played contact sports and 450 nonathletes. The scientists removed all infants under age 1, brain samples with insufficient tissue, and brain donors without biographical data attached to their samples. Finally, they collected medical records and looked under a microscope at tissue from up to three sections of each brain for signs of CTE. Those signs include lesions and buildup of tau, a protein associated with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.Six percent of the brains showed some or all signs of CTE, Bieniek and his colleagues report in Brain Pathology. Not all the people experienced symptoms associated with CTE, at least according to their medical records. Those symptoms include anxiety, depression, and drug use. However, people with CTE were about 31% more likely to develop dementia and 27% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those without CTE. By Sabine GalvisJul. 3, 2019 , 12:00 PM Even if you don’t play contact sports, you could develop signs of traumatic brain injury Study I* Lesions and unhealthy protein clusters in brain slices are signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Nonathletes All football players** Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country People with neurodegenerative diseases Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Only one of the 273 women in the sample exhibited signs of CTE. She was not an athlete. Bieniek says this could be because of the subjects’ somewhat advanced average age of 67. That would mean most of the women in the group were at least in their early 20s before Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education and school activities, became law in 1972; they likely had fewer chances to play competitive sports than men.The team also found that individuals with CTE were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries no more often than people whose brains lacked CTE. The authors suggest repeated trauma is key to developing CTE; a single hit to the head may cause a concussion and concussion-related symptoms without turning into a CTE diagnosis.Still, experts note that medical records can be incomplete, and people don’t always seek treatment for disorders such as depression and drug use. As a result, the findings could underestimate the proportion of people with CTE who develop these issues.The results provide a good overview of CTE prevalence in the general population, says Kristen Dams-O’Connor, a clinical neuropsychologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City who was not involved with the study. “Most of the research on CTE so far has been done in highly selected [groups] of people with generally very high levels of exposure to head trauma.”Neuropathologist Daniel Perl of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, also cautions that many of the brains in the study show only mild signs of CTE and should not be conflated with more extreme signs seen in professional football players’ brains. “I think we have to be very careful how we interpret this study and others like it.”Bieniek acknowledges that the brain donors were predominantly white, raising questions about whether the findings apply to everyone. He hopes to conduct further research with a more racially diverse set of samples at his new position at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. *Correction, 8 July, 1:55 p.m.: An earlier version of this article misstated the location of Kevin Bieniek’s previous position at Mayo Clinic. People who played contact sports were more likely to have signs of CTE. Nine percent of athletes had evidence of CTE, compared with just over 3% of nonathletes.The highest rate of CTE was in football players who participated beyond high school: Ten of 15 collegiate and professional players showed either some features of CTE or definitive diagnoses. The likelihood of developing CTE was 2.6 times as high for football players as for nonathletes, the researchers found, but more than 13 times as high for football players who continued beyond the high school level, compared with nonathletes.“Parents need to understand that playing tackle football does increase your risk of developing CTE, and it is correlated to how many years you play,” says Chris Nowinski, the CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit in Boston that advocates for concussion prevention among athletes. “That’s an important message if we ever want to prevent this disease.” Athletes Email Study III*The brain bank in Study I preselected for individuals with trauma** All categories (youth, high school, college, and NFL) All football players** Figures for how common chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is vary depending on the demographics of people surveyed. Study I from Boston University looked for CTE in male football players at all levels. Study II, conducted by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, used randomly selected brains. Study III was done by a group from the Queen Square Brain Bank for Neurological Disorders in London with brains suffering from other neurodegenerative disorders. Study IIlast_img

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