Research by a team of international experts has revealed that people who play contact sports such as American football, rugby and soccer are at significantly high risk of developing degenerative brain diseases, according to a statement released on Tuesday.
The Concussion Legacy Foundation said a study by experts from universities in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Great Britain had found “conclusive” evidence that repeated blows to the head caused chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The researchers said that the brain banks of the US Department of Defense, Boston University, the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the Mayo Clinic had all published studies showing that athletes practicing contact sports were 68 times more likely to develop ETC than others.
“This groundbreaking analysis gives us the greatest scientific confidence that repeated impacts to the head cause CTE,” said Chris Nowinski, CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation and lead author of the study.
The Concussion Legacy Foundation wants more global sporting bodies to recognize the causal link between head impacts and ETC.
If the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) and the National Football League (NFL) have already acknowledged this link, organizations such as FIFA, World Rugby and the IOC have not, the Foundation points out.
“It's time to include repetitive head trauma and CTE among child protection efforts like exposure to lead, mercury, smoking and sunburn,” said Adam Finkel, professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan.
The research comes as more sports take steps to limit head contact.
The week Last, the English soccer federation was allowed to test the removal of the header in low-level competitions and championships. Similar rules have been in place in the United States since 2015 in youth football.
In rugby, England's World Cup winner Steve Thompson and former Wales international Alix Popham , have taken legal action against World Rugby, Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union for failing to protect them from concussion risks.