Soccer is the world's most popular sport, with more than 265 million active players. Heading, in which players field the soccer ball with their head, is an essential part of the game. Players head the ball, on average, six to 12 times during competitive games, where balls can travel at velocities of 50 miles per hour or more. Michael L. Lipton, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York, USA), and colleagues report that soccer players who “head” the ball with high frequency demonstrate poorer performance on memory tests and have brain abnormalities similar to those found in traumatic brain injury patients. Enrolling 37 amateur adult soccer players (median age 31 years), the researchers conducted diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), an advanced MRI technique, to assess microscopic changes in the brain's white matter. DTI produces a measurement, called fractional anisotropy (FA), abnormally low values within white matter are associated with cognitive impairment in patients with traumatic brain injury. Participants reported having played soccer for an average of 22 years and played an average of 10 months over the past year. The researchers estimated how often each player headed the ball on an annual basis and identified regions in the brain where FA changed in relation to prior heading. This analysis identified areas of the brain where FA values were significantly lower in players who headed more. The players also underwent cognitive testing. The team found that most frequent headers showed abnormalities of white matter similar to that seen in patients with concussion. Calculating that soccer players who head the ball above a threshold of 885 to 1,550 times a year had significantly lower FA in three areas of the temporal-occipital white matter, the study authors warn that players with more than 1,800 headings per year were more likely to demonstrate poorer memory scores. The study authors warn that: "Heading is associated with abnormal white matter microstructure and with poorer neurocognitive performance.”
Lipton ML, Kim N, Zimmerman ME, Kim M, Stewart WF, Branch CA, Lipton RB. “Soccer Heading Is Associated with White Matter Microstructural and Cognitive Abnormalities.” Radiology. 2013 Jun 11.
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Tip #185 - The Cold Facts
A number of studies have suggested a role for vitamin D in innate immunity, including the prevention of respiratory tract infections (RTIs). Researchers from the University of Colorado (Colorado, USA) analyzed data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which involved 18,883 adults and adolescents between 1988 and 1994. The team found that people with the lowest average levels of Vitamin D in the blood were about 40% more likely to have a recent RTI, as compared to those with the highest Vitamin D blood levels . Further, low Vitamin D levels in people with asthma were associated with a five-time greater risk of RTI; and among COPD patients, RTIs were twice as common among those with Vitamin D deficiency.
Therapeutic Daily Dosing: Consult an anti-aging physician to determine the dosing that is appropriate for your medical needs.