OBJECTIVES: Previous epidemiological studies reported a significantly higher risk of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in Italian male soccer players. As a consequence, sports newspapers and news agencies focused on this issue and spread the news of 51 male soccer players with a reported diagnosis of ALS. DESIGN: We searched news on male Italian national soccer players with a reported diagnosis of ALS quoted from January 1, 1950 to July 31, 2016 in at least two Internet web sites or in books by journalists. RESULTS: A total of 39 male soccer players with a reported diagnosis of ALS were identified. Subjects were born from 1905 to 1973, 32 were currently deceased, 6 were still living, while the status of 1 player was unknown. All gathered information was available for 29 soccer players. The group had a mean age at diagnosis of 45.3 ± 12.2 years, a mean age at onset of symptoms of 46.4 ± 12.1 years, and a mean age at death of 50.9 ± 12.3 years. A significant inverse correlation between year of birth and age at onset of symptoms was observed, with a younger age at onset of symptoms in soccer players born in more recent years (r = -0.65, p < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Italian male soccer players with a reported diagnosis of ALS have a significantly younger age at diagnosis when compared to other European patients with ALS. Results support a possible relationship between soccer and the risk of ALS. We believe that further research is urgently needed in this field.
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health