A new study finds professional football players may be more likely to die from diseases such as ALS and Alzheimer's disease, which damage the cells in the brain.
"Three times the risk of dying from these causes than you would expect from the general population," said Everett Lehman of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. "In particular, ALS and Alzheimer's were more than three times the risk of the general population."
Recent studies suggest that head injuries on the field may lead to neurological problems. But the researchers of this study stopped short of drawing that conclusion.
The study in the journal Neurology looked at about 3,400 retired players who played for the NFL between 1959 and 1988 for five years or more.
The NFL says it has taken significant steps to address head injuries and protect players.
"We would hope that changes let's say in the turf and the rules changes will eventually lead to reduction in concussion," Lehman said.
Researchers say it will be important to follow players over time to see if new safety measures are keeping them safer.
Some former NFL players are suing the league, accusing the NFL of hiding information about brain injury risks.
PO Box 4508