Mortality Among Professional American-Style Football Players and Professional American Baseball Players

Published on May 24 2019 by the Jama Network

Vy T. Nguyen, MS; Ross D. Zafonte, DO; Jarvis T. Chen, ScD; Kalé Z. Kponee-Shovein, MPH; Sabrina Paganoni, MD, PhD; Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD;
Frank E. Speizer, MD; Aaron L. Baggish, MD; Herman A. Taylor Jr, MD; Lee M. Nadler, MD; Theodore K. Courtney, MS; Ann Connor, RN; Marc G. Weisskopf, PhD, ScD

 

What are the long-term health risks of National Football League (NFL) players compared with Major League Baseball (MLB) players, another group of elite athletes?

In this study of 3419 NFL and 2708 MLB players, NFL players had significantly higher mortality rates from all causes, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases compared with MLB players.

This study found that NFL players had a higher rate of mortality than MLB players, which may be associated with aspects of playing in professional American-style football.

This study found that NFL players had elevated all-cause, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative mortality rates compared with MLB players, although the absolute number of excess neurodegenerative deaths was still small. Factors that vary across these sports (eg, body habitus and head trauma) as opposed to those common across sports (eg, physical activity) could underlie the differences.

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