THURSDAY, Oct. 17, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The risk and severity of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) increase with the number of years playing American football, according to a study published online Oct. 7 in the Annals of Neurology.

Jesse Mez, M.D., from the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues used a convenience sample of 266 deceased American football players from the Veterans Affairs-Boston University-Concussion Legacy Foundation and Framingham Heart Study Brain Banks to estimate the association of years of football played with CTE pathological status and severity.

The researchers found that 223 of 266 participants met neuropathological diagnostic criteria for CTE. There was an association noted between more years of football played and having CTE (odds ratio [OR], 1.30 per year played) and CTE severity (severe versus mild; OR, 1.14 per year played). Compared with participants without CTE, participants with CTE were a 10th as likely to have played football for <4.5 years (negative likelihood ratio, 0.102) and were 10 times as likely to have played football for >14.5 years (positive likelihood ratio, 10.2).

“While we don’t yet know the absolute risk of developing CTE among American football players, we now can quantify that each year of play increases the odds of developing CTE by 30 percent,” Mez said in a statement. “We hope that these findings will guide players, family members, and physicians in making informed decisions regarding play.”

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