Women footballers may be more at risk from dementia than men, says new research
Female footballers could be more at risk from dementia than men, according to a leading expert in brain function.
Research into dementia in the men's game was conducted when the family of former foootballer Jeff Astle blamed his death in 2002 on repeatedly heading the ball and called for greater awareness on the link between the two.
The results of a two-year study by the University of Glasgow, published at the end of 2019, revealed that former professional male players were three-and-a-half times more likely to develop Alzheimer's than the general public.
However, Dr Michael Grey, the lead researcher of the new £1million SCORES Project (Screening Cognitive Outcomes after Repetitive head impact Exposure in Sport), believes female players in the sport may be at an even greater risk due to both the under-representation of women in studies and the fact that the sport is still growing.
Dr Grey said: "I wouldn't be surprised if the prevalence of dementia among women footballers compared to general population was a slightly bigger issue for women than for men.
"Women are really under-represented in this conversation. It's not likely that we will get a 50-50 split (of volunteers), just because there aren't that many women professionals of an age that we'll be looking at.
"However, the plan is that we start right away with an emphasis on recruiting women as well and we'll be able to follow them for the rest of their lives."