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"So while we don't know the exact risk and we don't know the exact number, we know this is a problem in football". Therefore, the sample brains used in the study may not be representative of American football players in general.

How many years of football is too many?

It's also not clear if concussions are the only factor, or if lifestyle habits like alcohol, drugs or diet could play a role.

The study authors themselves note that the study has "trememndous selection bias" and limitations.

The most common cause of death for participants with mild CTE pathology was suicide (27 percent) and for severe CTE it was a neurodegenerative disease (47 percent). He was not involved in the report.

"There is no question", McKee said. Currently, there's no known treatment.

Out of 202 deceased American football players, 177 were diagnosed with CTE.

CTE is caused by excessive head trauma often associated with extreme contact in sports like football, boxing and soccer. Contact sports like football, it turns out, may be more risky to your brain the longer you play, but that's only the beginning.

Most brains from players at advanced levels showed signs of severe CTE, including 86 percent of professional players and 56 percent of semi-professional or college players. The disease was not found in brains from two younger players.

The pathologist examining the brain will see shrinkage of the tissue in proportion to the stage of CTE, and microscopically abnormal proteins in the brain substance itself.

- The brain disease CTE was found in 99 percent of brains studied from former National Football League players according to a new report.

According to the study, approximately 3 in 14 high school players (20 percent) develop CTE, which can begin showing symptoms in their mid 20s. A new study in a medical journal JAMA has unearthed the magnitude of just how pervasive this issue really is. Wainright died in April 2016 at age 48 from a heart attack triggered by bleeding in the brain, said his wife, Stacie.

Maxwell said coaches also attend CTE workshops throughout the year to learn more about the condition.

"For years, we've been trying to change rules to make the game safer".

"I think the data are very surprising", she adds.

"But then defensively, when they're defenseless instead of getting a penalty you have to him them in the knees and they can be out", Johnson said.

Head injury risks in the USA sport have become a major concern as former players speak out about long-term health effects, including erratic behaviour and mood disorders. "But CTE is real". But I do know it's fluid.

Led by Boston University neuropathologist Ann McKee, researchers studied brains donated by families of former football players to a bank maintained by the VA Boston Healthcare System and the Concussion Legacy Foundation. He was not included in the current report.

"In addition, the study was heavily weighted towards former professional players, and relatively few patients played at the high school level or lower", Rabinovici continued.