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International rugby union players face higher risk of dementia

Men who played rugby union for Scotland are much more likely to develop dementia, Parkinson’s disease and motor neuron disease than the rest of the population

Health 4 October 2022

Scotland men's rugby team

The Scotland men’s rugby team in a match against Ireland in 2002

Andrew Cowie/Shutterstock

Men who played rugby union at international level are more than twice as likely to develop dementia as the general population.

Previous studies have found that heading the ball in soccer is linked with increased dementia risk, and that American football players are more likely than other people to die from neurodegenerative conditions.

William Stewart at the University of Glasgow in the UK and his colleagues analysed the medical histories and death certificates of 412 male Scottish …