Alan Shearer, 50, will feature on BBC One’s A Question of Sport tonight, as host Sue Barker reflects on its 50-year history. The striker, who most notably played for Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers, recently revealed that he – and other football players – may be at risk of dementia in later life.
Shearer is best known for being the Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer.
He scored top flight goals for Newcastle, Blackburn, and Southampton between 1988 and 2006.
After he retired from professional football, he joined Gary Lineker in presenting Match of the Day.
Shearer has previously investigated the controversial link between playing football and developing dementia.
Scientists have been researching whether heading the ball continuously over a number of years could increase the risk of dementia.
Shearer had an MRI scan back in 2017, as part of his BBC documentary ‘Alan Shearer: Dementia, Football and Me’.
The scan revealed that there wasn’t any current damage to his brain. But, follow-up tests that monitored his brain while he physically headed the ball showed a chemical disruption inside the brain.
Shearer also explained the science behind football’s impact on the brain, and admitted that he was “staggered” by the lack of attention to it.
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“As someone who played the game for 20 years, and sometimes headed the ball up to 100 times a day in training, I knew that if there was a danger, then I was one of those who could be at risk,” he told BBC Sport.
“We hear a lot about footballers having problems with drink, drugs or gambling, and the football authorities have put measures in place to help them.
“Similarly, after Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba almost died of a cardiac arrest on the pitch in 2012, defibrillators were put at every ground within a matter of months.
“All of that has helped to save lives. Yet very little has been done to investigate the effects of heading a ball. I find that staggering.
“I went into football knowing that at the end of my career I could probably expect to have some physical issues, which I do – I have dodgy knees, a dodgy back and dodgy ankles.
“But what I never contemplated for a second back then was that there is a chance that heading the ball could affect my brain.”
Dementia is the name given to a group of symptoms linked to an ongoing decline in brain function.
There are a number of different types of dementia, and the most common in the UK is Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia can cause a number of different symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, and mood changes.
There’s no certain way to prevent dementia from developing, but there are ways to lower your risk, said the NHS.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet, while regularly doing enough exercise should help to lower your chances of developing dementia.
There are around 850,000 people in the UK with dementia, and the condition affects one in every six people over 80 years old.
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