>> By heading the ball, could professional soccer players be risking the same long-term cognitive problems suffered by boxers and some American football players? That's the question a team of scientists have been studying in London. The researchers conducted post-mortems on six men who died with dementia after long careers playing football.
They found signs of brain damage in four of the six brains that could cause dementia, fueling concerns about the danger of frequent heading. Senior Reuters correspondent Ben Hirschler says more research is needed.>> Well it's still very tentative because this is a very small study. It only involves six patients, they may not be representative.
But it does show for the first time that ex-footballers can have the same brain damage as you see in ex-boxers. The Football Association is taking it very seriously. They say they're going to fund further research to work out if there really is a genuine link.>> The type of brain damage found chronic, traumatic encephalopathy, is a progressive degenerative disease found in athletes with a history of repeated brain trauma and is most common in ex-boxers.
Compared to boxing and other high contact sports, blows to the head in soccer are generally lower impact. But there may still be cumulative damage. The scientists said the dangers of heading also had to be weighed against the benefits from exercise in improving cardiovascular health, which reduces the likelihood of developing dementia.