Entries in Boxing (3)


Study Shows Six Years of Boxing Can Change Brain

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) -- The long term consequences of combat sport are no secret, thanks to high-profile athletes like Muhammad Ali.  But a new study suggests that six years of boxing can cause lasting changes in the brain, including shrinkage of areas involved in memory and cognition.

"We asked the question: Is there a certain degree of repetitive head trauma that the brain can tolerate, beyond which you run the risk of developing long term complications?" said study author Dr. Charles Bernick, associate director of the Cleveland Clinic's Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas.  "And if that's the case, can we detect changes in the brain before people become symptomatic?"

Bernick and colleagues followed 109 current boxers and mixed martial art fighters, using surveys to assess their fight frequencies and MRI scans to detect changes in their brains.  The more fights, the more severe the brain changes were in fighters with six or more years in the ring.  And after 12 years, the number of fights was linked to poorer performance on memory tests.

"This raises the possibility of detecting brain changes before people are symptomatic," said Bernick, who is presenting the ongoing study at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting this week in New Orleans.  "If you wait for someone to start having symptoms and retire, you've bought the farm.  You may not be able to do too much about it."

Mounting research in boxing, football, hockey and military service suggests smaller blows can add up to major consequences, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive brain disease with features of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and ALS.

"It's not just the big concussions, but the chronic accumulation of smaller blows to the head," said Dr. Daryl Rosenbaum, assistant professor of sports medicine at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.  "We get asked all the time how many hits are too many.  We don't know the answer to that question, but studies like this will help."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Depression, Addiction a One-Two Punch for Oscar de la Hoya

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Boxing champion Oscar de la Hoya has 10 world titles and one Olympic gold medal to his name. But this week he said he’s fighting his toughest opponents yet: depression and addiction.

In an interview with the Spanish-language network Univision, de la Hoya, 38, revealed his recent struggles with alcohol and cocaine addiction, admitting he had even contemplated suicide.

“This is the biggest fight of my life,” de la Hoya said. “I could put all my opponents in one ring and battle all of them, but this monster is going to be the toughest fight of my life.”

Dr. Jason Hershberger, a psychiatrist at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., said de la Hoya’s struggles could be linked to his public profile inside and outside the boxing ring.

“Being famous and in the public spotlight is a pressure,” Hershberger said. “Often what happens in depression is there’s a feeling you’re not meeting the expectations of people around you. And fame can just heighten those feelings.”

Alternatively, Hershberger said success might make it easier for some famous people to deny that they have a problem regarding depression or substance abuse.

De la Hoya said he used alcohol and drugs as an escape route from the pressures of his life. “They took me to a place where I felt safe,” he said. De la Hoya is undergoing treatment and said he had joined Alcoholics Anonymous.

Depression and substance abuse “are two horses that often run together,” Hershberger said. “Tough men in America are often reluctant to get help for depression, even desperate depression that can lead to suicide. So they often self-medicate and do things to feel better,” such as partaking in alcohol or drugs.

But the irony of that connection is that substance abuse can make depression worse by creating an imbalance in the brain’s chemistry — specifically in the neurotransmitters that send information from one cell to another.

Hershberger said that while de la Hoya’s problems could be exacerbated by his place in the spotlight, “depression doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t seem to matter who you are.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Teen Boxing Is Too Dangerous, Doctors Say

Photos dot com/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Youth boxing may be too risky, doctors say.  The amount of risks presented by the sport is simply too great, according to a policy statement released by pediatrician groups in the U.S. and Canada.

"Children and adolescents should not be participating in boxing because of the risk of head and facial injuries," statement co-author Laura Purcell, MD says, according to WebMD.

Previous research has proven that brain injury is the biggest risk posed by boxing, with more than half of boxing injuries being concussions, WebMD reports.

Purcell tells WebMD, "There is no evidence that headgear prevents concussions."

Because children's brains are more susceptible to physical harm such as concussions, pediatricians are urging health care professionals to "vigorously oppose boxing for any child or adolescent," citing longer recovery in children.

And doctors are not only worried about risk of brain and facial injury.  The process of "making weight," or any practice employed to qualify for competition in a certain weight class could lead to unhealthy habits of eating or fluid restriction, according to child care physicians.

The two groups, the Canadian Pediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics, joined efforts in authoring the policy statement published in the journal Pediatrics, updating a 1997 statement by U.S. doctors.  The Canadian Pediatric Society is addressing youth boxing for the first time, according to WebMD.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio