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To McKee’s great surprise, however, early exposure to tackle football was not associated with more severe signs of CTE, or other brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. Instead, she found something perhaps even more disturbing. Football players who played tackle football as children suffered the devastating symptoms of brain disease, like cognitive impairment and mood swings, earlier in their lives.

By analyzing the 211 brains, McKee and her team found that those who played tackle football before age 12 — 84 players in total — had an earlier onset of cognitive, behavior and mood symptoms by an average of 13 years, compared to those who started after age 12. Every one year younger the participants began playing tackle football predicted earlier onset of cognitive, behavioral and mood problems by about 2.5 years. Of these 211 men with CTE, 76 were amateur players, and 135 played at the professional level.

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(L-R) Ashley McCrary, Allison Allred, Juleigh Green and Lori Lee

Then, in 2001, her friend Allison Allred was diagnosed with the same cancer.

“I was just seeing some mild flashes of light for, say, 7 to 10 days,” she said.

Their friend Ashley McCrary was the next to develop ocular melanoma, after seeing black spots.

“What’s crazy is literally standing there, I was like, ‘Well, I know two people who’ve had this cancer,” she said.

McCrary told her oncologist, Dr. Marlana Orloff at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, that her friends had the same cancer, and Dr. Orloff and her colleagues are now studying the strange connection.

“Most people don’t know anyone with this disease,” Dr. Orloff said. “We said, ‘Okay, these girls were in this location, they were all definitively diagnosed with this very rare cancer what’s going on?’ ”

RELATED VIDEO: Mom of 4 Diagnosed with Rare Cancer Loses Eye Weeks Before Giving Birth to Twins

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Media Contact

Louisa Kellie
[email protected]
817-524-8926

 @utarlington

/www.uta.edu 


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