BOSTON (CBS) – While several professional sports have come under fire for putting players at serious health risks, a new study finds that professional baseball players might be the healthiest athletes out there.

Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health looked at more than 10,000 athletes and found that major league baseball players tend to live about 24% longer than the average American man.

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They say professional athletes have better fitness to begin with and often adhere to a healthy lifestyle to maintain a high level of play.

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The study also found that professional baseball players have a lower death rate than NFL players when it comes to heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders. The belief is that baseball players are generally spared the head injuries associated with other professional sports.

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But one health risk they did identify in pro baseball players was higher death rates from some cancers, which they say needs to be studied further.

Dr. Mallika Marshall