Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and soccer: an internet survey of 29 Italian players
Nicola Vanacore, Pierfrancesco Barbariol, Bruno Caffari, Eleonora Lacorte, Ilaria Bacigalupo, Stefania Spila Alegiani
Objectives Some epidemiological studies have shown a very high risk of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in Italian male soccer players. Subsequently, the sports newspapers and news agencies have spread the news of 51 male soccer players with reported ALS. Design We searched for male Italian national soccer players quoted in at least two Internet web sites or in books of journalists from January 1, 1950 to July 31, 2016 with a reported diagnosis of ALS. Results. Thirty nine male soccer players with reported ALS were identified. These subjects were born from 1905 to 1973 (32 deceased 6 living and 1 unknown). In the group of 29 soccer players for which the information was available the mean age at diagnosis was 45.3± 12.2 years; the mean age at onset of symptoms was 46.4± 12.1 years; the mean age at death was 50.9± 12.3 years. An inverse statistically correlation between year of birth and age at onset of symptoms was observed, with a more younger age at onset of symptoms for soccer players born in the recent years (r =-0.65 p<0.01). Conclusions. The ALS Italian male soccer have a clear anticipation of the age of diagnosis respect to European ALS patients. The findings support the possible relation between the soccer and the occurrence of ALS. We believe that an increase in research activity is urgently needed in this field.