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Can heading a football lead to dementia? The evidence is growing

Concussion can have lifelong consequences and children are particularly at risk

The death in 2002 of the former England and West Bromwich Albion striker Jeff Astle from degenerative brain disease placed the spotlight firmly on the possibility of a link between heading footballs and the risk of dementia. The coroner at the inquest ruled that Astle, 59, died from an “industrial disease” brought on by the repeated trauma of headers, and a later examination of Astle’s brain appeared to bear out this conclusion.

At that time there was sparse scientific data on the issue, but since then the balance of evidence has steadily tipped further in favour of a link. It has been shown that even single episodes of concussion can have lifelong consequences.

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