BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Major new research on former NFL players found evidence of brain disease in 99-percent of them.
The study released Tuesday from the Boston University School of Medicine looked at the brains of 202 former football players from the NFL down to high school.
CTE is a disease that has been linked with repeated head blows and the results confirm that it can happen even in young players.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is the biggest update on CTE.
It suggests that CTE “may be related to prior participation in football and that a long duration of play may be related to substantial disease burden.”
“It is no longer debatable whether or not there is a problem in football; there is a problem,” Dr. Ann McKee, Director of BU’s CTE Center, said in a statement Tuesday.
“Through this study, we have identified meaningful opportunities for detection, prevention and multiple targets to slow or stop CTE, and it is time to come together to find solutions.”
Of the total 202 former football players in the study, CTE was diagnosed in 177 of them – which is nearly 90 percent of the brains studied.
Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson spoke to WBZ-TV about the most recent CTE study.
“You try not to think about it. A lot of people ask me ‘Did you see that movie Concussion?’ No. I don’t need to see it. I kind of know what it’s all about,” Johnson said.
“The scary part is if they are ever able to design the imaging technology to detect CTE in the living, currently it’s only postmortem, I think it’s going to be game-changing.”
Researchers still don’t know how common CTE is in football or the general population. Some players with repeated concussions never develop it.
“I think they’re scary numbers. I think they’re very frightening numbers,” said McKee.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)