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No Link Between Amateur Boxing, Long-Term Brain Damage

Review of 36 studies finds no good evidence of an association

FRIDAY, Oct. 5, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- There's no strong evidence linking amateur boxing with long-term brain injury, according to a team of sports doctors and clinical academics who've reviewed 36 studies on the issue.

Of those studies, 15 (42 percent) concluded that there was some sign of boxing-related chronic brain injury in at least some boxers. However, the quality of evidence in these studies was poor, the review authors noted. Of 17 better quality studies included in the review, only four (24 percent) found any indication of chronic brain injury in a minority of boxers.

Overall, studies that identified a possible link between amateur boxing and long-term brain injury were of poorer quality and design, said a team led by Dr. Mike Loosemore of the Olympic Medical Institute at Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, U.K. Few of the studies were of sufficient quality to conclude anything other than a weak association, the researchers noted.

The review was published online Friday in the British Medical Journal.

There is ongoing debate about the safety of amateur boxing, which is growing in popularity, noted the review authors, who said they did not seek to endorse or oppose the sport.

In an accompanying editorial, University of Melbourne neurologist and sports physician Paul McCrory suggested that boxers now have shorter careers and reduced exposure to repetitive head trauma, making it less likely that they'll develop long-term brain injury.

More information

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons has more about sports-related head injuries.

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, news release, Oct. 5, 2007
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