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Researcher: NFL Players Have Double Risk For Alzheimer's, Parkinson's

Illustration for article titled Researcher: NFL Players Have Double Risk For Alzheimer's, Parkinson's

Former NFL players between the ages of 20 and 60 are at twice the risk of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, and other forms of dementia, according to an actuary working for the former NFL players in the ongoing brain injury lawsuit.


The report was released today, as context for the proposed $765 million settlement that still hasn't been finalized. Here are the estimates, as gleaned from the data, which was independently prepared by the actuary:

Their actuary expects 14 percent of all former players to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and another 14 percent to develop moderate dementia over the next 65 years, according to the data. There are more than 19,000 former players still living, meaning nearly 6,000 of them will fall into those two groups. Another 31 will be diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and 24 with Parkinson's disease during their lives, according to the data.

Clearly, 28 percent is a lot, and actually falls in lockstep with the NFL's own estimate. For reference, consider that just 200,000 of the estimated 5.2 million cases of Alzheimer's in the U.S. occur in people younger than 65, and 82 percent occur in people over 75.

The settlement still has a way to go before it's finalized, though:

Critics also lament that the settlement plan offers no awards to anyone diagnosed with CTE in the future, and that the Alzheimer's and dementia awards are cut by 75 percent for players who also suffered strokes.

The plan would pay up to $5 million for players with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease; $4 million for deaths involving CTE; $3.5 million for Alzheimer's disease; and $3 million for moderate dementia and other neurocognitive problems.

However, only men under 45 who spent at least five years in the league would get those maximum payouts. The awards are reduced, on a sliding scale, if they played fewer years or were diagnosed at a more advanced age.

The NFL has agreed to pay out more than the $765 million if necessary, but the structure of the payouts is still a huge sticking point, and is causing some of the plaintiffs to drop out so they can pursue their own cases. Something does need to be settled soon, though, because a lot of players involved in the settlement simply need money now.