49ers' Dwight Clark tragedy: Can football means ALS?

The overwhelming proclamation Sunday that former 49ers star Dwight Clark had been diagnosed with ALS immediately lifted a question:

Did football means this?

And it was Clark himself, in a minute to his fans, who acted it.

“I have ALS, also famous as Lou Gehrig’s disease,” Clark wrote. “Those difference are still really tough for me to say. I’ve been asked if personification football caused this. we don’t know for sure. But we positively think it did.”

Clark continued: “I inspire a NFLPA and a NFL to continue operative together in their efforts to make a diversion of football safer, generally as it relates to conduct trauma.”

So what are a connections, proven by investigate or simply pragmatic by inconclusive suggestion, between a diversion of football and a degenerative neurological illness that afflicts 6,000 some-more people any year and claims a lives of half of them within 3 to 5 years of diagnosis?

The affliction, that is a on-going concede of muscles due to haughtiness degeneration, manifests itself during initial with debility in a arms or legs though eventually can lead to a muscles simply shutting down. Attacking a respiratory system, ALS mostly turns deadly when a studious succumbs to pneumonia.

The ALS-sports couple is finished all a some-more conspicuous since of a famed athletes who have perished during a touch. Usually distinguished people between a ages of 40 and 70, during time when sports stars are looking behind on storied careers from a roost of center age, ALS has claimed a prolonged list of professionals: Hall of Fame pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter,  boxing champion Ezzard Charles, NBA Hall of Fame basketball actor George Yardley, pro football actor Glenn Montgomery, British soccer actor Jimmy Johnstone, and others.

And, of course, there is no sports figure some-more connected to ALS than Lou Gehrig, a New York Yankees mythological first-baseman who in 1939 abruptly late from ball after being diagnosed with ALS.

“He would fit a standard form of ALS — it’s some-more common in men, a normal age of conflict is 56, and it starts in a arm or leg,” pronounced neurologist Catherine Lomen-Hoerth, executive of a UC San Francisco ALS Center. She remarkable that while mishap is guess to be a risk factor, some-more investigate needs to be finished to establish a impact on possibly triggering and also accelerating a course of a disease. ALS also is common in veterans, she noted, some-more so in those who have been deployed, though also those who have not.

Fred Fisher, boss and CEO of a ALS Association’s Golden West Chapter that includes California and Hawaii, pronounced that while studies “are pointing” to a association between jaunty injuries and ALS, “I’m not certain that any of a investigate we know is absolutely saying conclusively that.”

However, Fisher remarkable that Eric Scoggins, a member of USC’s 1978 inhabitant championship football group and crony of former 49er Ronnie Lott, died from ALS in Jan 2009. Scoggins also played quickly for a 49ers in a early 1980s.

For years, studies have associated ALS, along with conditions caused by brain-cell repairs like Alzheimer’s disease, to a universe of veteran football players. In 2012, researchers from a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati wrote in a biography Neurology that pro football players are many some-more expected to die from these diseases. Their investigate collected information on 3,439 ex-professional football players, normal age 57 years, who had played during during slightest 5 seasons from 1959 to 1988 for a NFL. Poring over genocide certificates, a group detected that gridiron veterans had triple a risk of genocide caused by diseases that destroy or repairs mind cells compared to other people. And they had 4 times larger risk of failing from ALS or Alzheimer’s disease.

There is opposing investigate about probable links between ALS and CTE, or ongoing dire encephalopathy, that affects veteran athletes who have had steady conduct injuries and has been a concentration of a largest share of new concerns about football’s health legacies. Writing on a ALS Association website, Dr. Edward Kasarskis with a ALS Center during a University of Kentucky Neuroscience Center in Lexington, Kentucky, suggested a discreet proceed to joining a two.

Kasarskis pronounced a study published in a Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology  in 2010 reported that some “professional athletes (football, boxing) who have had steady conduct injuries and grown what’s called ongoing dire encephalopathy (CTE) competence rise ALS. This study, formed on a hearing of a mind and spinal cord during autopsy, indicated that some pathological facilities of CTE in a mind can extend to a spinal cord. However, there were problems with a approach a commentary were reported by a media.”

As he wrote, “the infancy of people with conduct mishap do not rise ALS. Head mishap is not rare; there are about 300,000 cases of conduct mishap each year. But there are about 5,600 cases of ALS annually.

“CTE is not a engine neuron disease, and there is no definite cause-and-effect attribute between CTE and ALS,” wrote Kasarskis. “Some large, race formed studies have supposing justification that conduct mishap competence be one of many contributing factors concerned in occasionally ALS, though many some-more work needs to be finished in this area.”

Among a many famous cases in a annals of football and ALS was a story of Paul Kevin Turner, a former actor for a New England Patriots and a Philadelphia Eagles who died final year during age 46 from ALS. Yet even in his death, Turner’s diagnosis influenced controversy, as news outlets reported – erroneously – that CTE, and not ALS, had killed him. Turner was a pivotal figure in a common story of a NFL and brain-damage disorders as he served as a lead plaintiff in a vital lawsuit filed by former players opposite a NFL per a health risks of concussions in American football.

Following Turner’s genocide final March, Boston University Brain CTE Center announced that Turner had had  a serious box of CTE that led to his death. The Boston University School of Medicine posted on a Facebook Page, “The VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank released a following statement: To explain opposing media reports, #KevinTurner died of #ALS. ALS is a clinical diagnosis tangible by a detriment of transformation by a lapse of engine neuron cells. There are many famous causes of ALS, privately genetic and environmental causes, though many ALS cases are of idiopathic, or unknown, origin. By study his brain, researchers during a VA, Boston University School of Medicine and Concussion Legacy Foundation detected that a means of Kevin Turner’s ALS was engine neuron dungeon genocide triggered by CTE, that is a pathological diagnosis. His clinical diagnosis stays ALS.”

Sports fans and writers have increasingly called on a NFL to take ALS and associated disorders some-more seriously. Mark Purdy, a columnist for this news organization, wrote that a joining has finished some fledgling efforts in new years to try and revoke a magnitude of concussions among players, including a supposed ”88 Plan” that helps compensate medical bills for those players diagnosed with dementia,  ALS, or Parkinson’s disease.

“But a joining has never focused privately on a intensity links between football and dementia,” Purdy wrote. “Or football and ALS. Or football and several other neurological terrors. The joining has also never privately lifted barrels of income to investigate ALS cures or treatments. Neither has a NFLPA, a players’ union.”

Purdy wasn’t carefree that things would change anytime soon. “My suspicion?  Lawyers are advising a joining not to get too tighten to a ALS flame, for fear of formulating a guilt disaster.  And maybe a NFLPA fears that it it acknowledges a probable links now, former members competence sue a kinship for not improved informing them of a risks in past seasons.”

Staff Writer Tracy Seipel contributed to this report.




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