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Researchers Find 96 Percent of Deceased NFL Players Had CTE

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy seen in 79 percent of all football players studied

MONDAY, Sept. 21, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- The latest data from a brain bank that focuses on traumatic head injury show that 87 of 91 deceased former National Football League (NFL) players tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE was identified in 96 percent of NFL players and in 79 percent of all football players studied, researchers from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University told Frontline in an exclusive report Friday. In total, brain tissue from 165 people who played football in high school, college, semi-pro leagues, or in the NFL was examined after their deaths, according to Frontline.

Offensive and defensive linemen bore the brunt of the disease, with 40 percent of players in those positions suffering from CTE, according to the brain bank. But since CTE can only be diagnosed posthumously, many of the players who had donated their brains for testing suspected that they had the disease while still alive, so researchers were working with a skewed sample, Frontline reported.

The NFL said in a statement to Frontline: "We are dedicated to making football safer and continue to take steps to protect players, including rule changes, advanced sideline technology, and expanded medical resources. We continue to make significant investments in independent research through our gifts to Boston University, the National Institutes of Health, and other efforts to accelerate the science and understanding of these issues."

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