Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Not allowing kids to play football is "our moral duty": Bennet Omalu, MD

In a recent New York Times opinion piece, pathologist Bennet Omalu strongly endorsed a policy that children should not play football. Here are excerpts from his essay:

"We've known since 1964 that cigarette smoking is harmful to your health. We’ve known for more than 40 years that alcohol damages the developing brain of a child. We’ve known since the mid-70s that asbestos causes cancer and other serious diseases. Knowing what we know now, we do not smoke in enclosed public spaces like airplanes; we have passed laws to keep children from smoking or drinking alcohol; and we do not use asbestos as an industrial product.

"If a child who plays football is subjected to advanced radiological and neurocognitive studies during the season and several months after the season, there can be evidence of brain damage at the cellular level of brain functioning, even if there were no documented concussions or reported symptoms. If that child continues to play over many seasons, these cellular injuries accumulate to cause irreversible brain damage, which we know now by the name Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a disease that I first diagnosed in 2002."

It should be noted that the CTE brain bank at Boston University found evidence of CTE in the brains of 131 out of 165 athletes who played professional, college, or high school football. In other words, based on this sample size, the risk of getting CTE from playing football for a relatively extended period is higher than the risk of getting lung cancer from smoking.

Since we have a legal age at which individuals are allowed to smoke, drink alcohol, and drive, it stands to reason that engaging in an activity that is likely to cause brain damage should also only be engaged in by individuals old enough to make an informed decision, says Omalu. 

Thanks to Dr. Chad Vanderbilt for alerting me to this article.

1 comment:

cerebral angiogram philadelphia said...

Agreed. Engaging in an activity that is likely to cause brain damage should only be engaged in by individuals old enough to make an informed decision. And as parents, we should take responsibility and not let our kids do something that we know might hurt them.

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