Football increases the risk for Lou Gehrig's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Percept Mot Skills. 2007 Jun;104(3 Pt 2):1251-4. doi: 10.2466/pms.104.4.1251-1254.


A recent report of a six-fold increase in prevalence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disease, in soccer players prompted a similar investigation in National Football League players in the United States. Using the internet, a retrospective analysis indicated 8 of the 3,891 players who played or debuted after 1960 had ALS, a prevalence of 206 per 100,000, a 40-fold higher prevalence rate than the rate of 5 per 100,000 in the general U.S. population (p<.001, binomial theorem). While no etiology for ALS has been established, the very high rate associated with professional football warrants further examination.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Football / psychology
  • Football / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology