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Former Players Thread

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Re: Former Players Thread

Postby Shore Lion » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:37 am

I read something about that once and ALS typically strikes people a little later in life. Hawking was diagnosed at a relatively young age and that seems to make a difference in longevity with the disease. I think Steve Smith has had ALS for close to 15 years now but he was in his late 30's when he was diagnosed I believe so who knows? Now I'm thinking about ALS and how really stupid it is to get so excited if PSU doesn't make the playoff. It's been a fun year so who cares what else happens? Stuff like this helps me remember that watching sports is really just entertainment and in the scheme of things the results just aren't that important.
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Re: Former Players Thread

Postby Blue&White » Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:06 am

It seems a disproportionate number of people who get it are athletes. Maybe that's not true and it just feels like it because it gets more attention but it does seem that, as a percentage of the population, they are overrepresented for the disease. I wonder if there is anything to that?

Maybe tonight I'll do some googling and see if I can find anything. I may have found the one potential upside to being a corporate wage slave instead of a pro athlete.
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Re: Former Players Thread

Postby psu_dad » Thu Dec 01, 2016 3:10 pm

I read an article on ALS some time ago. The article mentioned some basic trends: men more likely than women to get ALS ... older people more likely than younger people ... but it didn't mention athletes or any other occupation to my recollection.

Apparently, in a small percentage of cases (10%) it can be traced to genetics, but 90% of the time they have no idea why a particular person got ALS.
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Re: Former Players Thread

Postby PittGradPSUMad » Thu Dec 01, 2016 7:01 pm

Blue&White wrote:It seems a disproportionate number of people who get it are athletes


Add Pete Duranko to that list. Pete was an All-American DE on Notre Dame's 1966 national championship team and went on to play eight years or so with the Denver Broncos. He died of ALS in 2011, about five years after he was diagnosed. One more honor Pete achieved....world class nice guy who greeted everyone with a big smile and a vise-like handshake. Loved and admired by all who knew him.
Yeah, well...you know...that's just like, uh, your opinion, man.
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Re: Former Players Thread

Postby Blue&White » Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:07 pm

Just did a google search. There are a couple of articles that say there is evidence that repeated head traumas can lead to ALS and there is at least a correlation between football and the disease, but more research is needed to say for certain. So, it's not my imagination that there seems to be a disproportion of at least football players getting the disease, but that's not quite the same as proof of a link. It certainly seems reasonable to me, though, especially given what they have learned about the impact of repeated concussions.
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Re: Former Players Thread

Postby psu_dad » Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:17 pm

There are thousands of people just in the U.S. that are diagnosed with ALS every year. You only hear about the famous ones. A former athlete getting ALS is considered newsworthy. One of my neighbors getting it is not.
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Re: Former Players Thread

Postby Blue&White » Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:21 pm

Sure but NFL players are pretty small in number and they seem to have a disproportionate number of diagnosis was my point. There does seem to be evidence of a link between head trauma and the disease. Not definitive, but evidence.

Who knows. I just know I can think of a lot of ways I'd prefer to die over ALS.
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Re: Former Players Thread

Postby psu_dad » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:09 pm

I don't know, either. If it turns out that 2 or 3 out of every 100,000 people in the general population get ALS and that the rate for football players is 10x as high, then you've probably got something. But I don't know the numbers. You'd also have to account for other distinguishing characteristics of football players. Do they use PEDs at a higher rate than the general population? Again, I don't know the numbers.

All that said, I suppose it does seem intuitive that a disease that disrupts brain activity could be related to banging your head repeatedly, but that doesn't make it so. When I was a kid, everyone was convinced that repeatedly "cracking your knuckles" led to osteoarthritis later in life, but current medical wisdom is that this isn't so.
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Re: Former Players Thread

Postby Blue&White » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:15 pm

When I was a kid, everyone was convinced that repeatedly "cracking your knuckles" led to osteoarthritis later in life, but current medical wisdom is that this isn't so.

I always heard that too but I seriously question the definition of "everyone". I think it was an old wives tale made up by old wives and mothers who didn't like the sound and said you'll get arthritis when you're older to stop their sons and husbands from cracking their knuckles. I think the links between head trauma and degenerative conditions is a little stronger than the old knuckle cracking myth.

On the flip side, the relative I had who died from it never played football or, to the best of my knowledge, had any serious head trauma in his life. He just drew a bad hand, I guess. It's weird how some people can engage in a certain behavior and never have any consequences and others are the total opposite. George Burns smoked cigars his whole life and lived to be 100 or so. Dana Reeves was never a smoker and died of lung cancer in her 40s. You just never know, I guess.
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Re: Former Players Thread

Postby Blue&White » Mon Dec 12, 2016 11:44 am

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