Grass and bare legs: Italian soccer ALS cluster

Italian soccer players worldwide have a six times greater chance of getting ALS than the average Italian. This risk is unrelated to general physical activity or doping, because Italian basketball or volleyball players have no increased risk. [1] [2] Neither is the risk related to just being outside a lot, because Italian cyclists also do not run an extra risk of ALS, according to Raffaele Guariniello, a Turin prosecutor who investigated the early deaths of more than 40 ex-soccer players from ALS[3]. His team could not yet identify a rugby player with ALS, but that was to be expected, since the number of rugby players in Italy is much less than the number of soccer players, so even if rugby players would run the same increased risk of ALS as soccer players, statistically, less than one would be expected to have died of the disease.

Some of the more well-known players who died of ALS or still have it are Armando Segato, Albano Canozza, Lauro Minghelli, Giancarlo Galdiolo, Adriano Lombardi, Stefano Borgonovo, Gianluca Signorini, Giorgio Rognoni and Guido Vincenzi.

Stefano Borgonovo with ALS

Stefano Borgonovo

Gianluca Signorini with ALS

Gianluca Signorini

Borgonovo said in an interview that he thinks that a genetic flaw lead to his demise, but the evidence contradicts that. He did not suffer from familial ALS but from sporadic ALS - the type that is thought to occur randomly, and not six times more often amongst soccer players.

ALS does not just plague Italian soccer players: Playing soccer is just as risky for Brits: Three British men, carpet fitter George Pearce of Wash Common, electrician Graham Hodgetts of Thatcham and builder and carpenter Sam Brown of Kingsclere all played amateur soccer in the same league on the same soccer pitches at the Newbury and Basingstoke leagues from when they were teenagers until they were in their forties, and in later life died of ALS[4]. Statistically, this is unlikely in the extreme.

It has already been established that merely "being fit" does not raise the risk of acquiring ALS as much as specifically spending a lot of time in nature or on grass. A study published in the American Academy of Neurology found that people who played university sports had a 1.7 times higher risk of developing the disease than those who did not. That is still several times less than the sixfold incidence of ALS amongst Italian soccer players.

There have been suggestions that heading a heavy ball could have initiated a cascade of brain damage leading to ALS, but there is no evidence in medical literature that boxers have a greater risk of developing ALS, making that hypothesis unlikely. And modern soccer balls are much lighter because they are coated to prevent rain water absorption - yet also in recent times, Italian soccer players continued to contract ALS at an alarming rate.

The "physical activity" hypothesis of ALS is based on solid data, but the conclusion that physical activity in general can contribute to causing ALS is unwarranted because it's still a tiny fraction of the physically active that go on to develop ALS. What should be looked at is the type of physical activity that results in the highest rates of ALS. Physically active people usually are active in many ways. They camp and hike as well as play tennis, swim and cycle. Clearly, some activities are much riskier than others. Soccer has been identified as the riskiest sport activity, so far.

What is unique about soccer is that players occasionally cause themselves tiny cuts and abrasions on the grass and dirt when they tackle an opponent. And even the shortest grass harbors ticks, since ticks normally dwell directly on the ground to avoid drying out, until they are ready for a blood meal - only then do they seek a suitable spot to attach to a host.

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1.  Joanne Drayson    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Not just soccer players - Mike Gregory Rugby player and coach - Illness

In 2004, it was revealed that Gregory had been suffering from progressive muscular atrophy, a form of motor neurone disease affecting his nerves and muscles which he had possibly contracted as early as 2001. The illness blocks signals from the brain getting to muscles, causing weight-loss and affecting speech. Gregory went to the USA for a week in May 2004 to receive specialist treatment. Ian Millward was appointed as head coach of Wigan while Mike was still recovering from his illness. It is believed that during rugby league duties in Australia in 2003, when Mike was a coach, he was bitten by a tick which was carrying an infection known as Borrelia. Though Mike was totally unaware of the bite, he later developed a large red-ring rash, unbeknown to him at the time that this rash was the hallmark for Borrelia (the causative agent of Lymes Disease) – and ushered in the beginning of the biggest fight of his life.

2.  Lymebuster    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

'Lymies...I would get all these tests...Western Blot for Borrelia, also test for Borrelia hermsii, and Babesia duncani and microti and Quest can test for duncani, Bartonella henselae and quintana, Brucella, Tularemia, Coxiella burnetti or Q fever, many rickettsias ie Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Typhus, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, EBV, CMV, all Coxsackie viruses, and now Powassan virus ...and its cousin Deer Tick Virus, HSV 1 and 2, HHV 1-8 if available. Parvovirus B -19 papillomaviruses, Toxoplasmosis, Chlamydias and Mycoplasmas and get genetic tests for hypercoagulation like Mthfr and Factor V leiden, and test all your IgG subclasses 1-4, and CD 57 and C3a and C4a and CBS mutations and HPU/KPU and mold testing since so many of us have issues with mold. ECP or eoisonophil cationic protein seems to suggest to docs that you have babesia. Also transfer growth factor b-1 and Beta Strep. High CD 57 counts may be associated with Beta Strep. Heavy metals have a part in this and we are low in Secosteroid D or vitamin D and some are low in Potassium and others iron. Many are deficient in all amino acids. Our hormones are a mess and the whole HPA Hypothalmic pituitary axis is the problem. We can have probs with our adrenals and thryoid...we do not convert T4 to T3 and in my case I have high reverse T3 or rT3. We are quite low in testosterone as well. Check out every hormone in your body, amino acids and vitamins and minerals. There are over 100 viruses we can get from a tick and also many parasites. The labs that insurance covers can't find a parasite when we can see it under the microscope. Quest at Nichols Institute in Valencia California can culture samples and might even be able to distinguish Brucella suis from melitensis or arbortus. We also need an MRI of our brain with and without contrast. Many lymies are showing up with pituitary adenomas and pheomchromocytomas. Make sure that you do not have these. I have spent years trying to figure out what is in us and so far this is what I have seen. Unfortunately when your physician may take years to order all the necessary tests. Make sure you get tested sooner rather than later. One more thing may get tested for Brucella today and 2 years from now may show up IgM positive. The immune system is overwhelmed with all these pathogens

3.  Determinate    Sunday, September 2, 2012

How much would all these tests cost, when would you finish; surely there must be a better way otherwise it's impractical!

4.  Alex Holmstedt    Saturday, December 26, 2015

Danish soccer player Brian Fakkenor was bitten by a tick in 2011, and was diagnosed with ALS by the public Danish health care system.

Brian Fakkenor himself did not believe in the diagnosis and were therefore examined at a private clinic in Copenhagen that works together with the BCA-clinic in Augsburg, Germany.
The examination by the clinic showed that he suffered from a severe infection from Borrelia. This “of course“ was not recognized by the Danish health care system.

Brian Fakkenor went to Germany for treatment and gained some of his mobility back, but he eventually ran out of money and his family had to try to raise some funds from the public.

June 10, 2015 Brian Fakkenor had to give up to the infection and died.

5.  Sarah Vaughter    Saturday, December 26, 2015

I am sad to hear this. Doxycycline in a single 500 mg dose per day can likely keep "ALS" progression at bay indefinitely or even slowly reverse its symptoms. I had ALS-like symptoms and have been on Doxycycline (400 to 600 mg/day) for the past 15 years. All those symptoms disappeared but I am still ill and still need antibiotics. Please note that as soon as the ALS symptoms progressed to more than quite mild, that oral antibiotics or IV antibiotics may be too late.

These were his initial symptoms: " Efter ca 6 uger begynder han at miste kræfterne i sine hænder og hans ben begynder at krampe."

Those were identical to my initial symptoms. Antibiotics saved my life, but even years later (while still on antibiotics) I lost bladder control and my breathing reflex stopped many times completely. For years I thought I could die any second. So you must IMMEDIATELY start antibiotics as soon as the first symptoms arrive, and keep taking them the rest of your life, in a very high dose, every day. Then you'll likely survive, but quality of life will be not too good.

Doxycycline is cheap. Tetracycline can even be purchased by private individuals, 1000 Euro for a year's supply (1500 to 2000 mg/day). I obtain Doxy from veterinarians in Eastern Europe. 3 Euro/day could have saved Mr. Fakkenor. Frustratingly, I have repeatedly offered some of my antibiotics to people dying of Lyme disease. All of them declined - they preferred to trust their doctors or were afraid to self-medicate. Some, who begged for help on YouTube, responded very aggressively to my offer for help. "Who are you and what do you want from me?" or "I am not interested in your crazy ideas". I am always very sad and angry when that happens so I will not offer to help anymore.

I think his relatives should sue the criminally incompetent and willfully negligent Danish "healthcare" system. The Danes as well as all other European "healthcare" providers know full well about the controversies surrounding Lyme disease, but they chose to be intimidated by the US "health" "authorities" and adopt US "healthcare" standards when it comes to Lyme, ALS etc.

There is an irrational reverence for MD's in the world. They are treated like gods. In cases such as these., the people responsible for Brian's death should be publicly named and shamed, in order to slowly make a change. Publish their names anonymously (and via a proxy server) on The Ripoff Report. Make sure that when anyone googles the name of these doctors, that it will be clear what they have done. Get these quacks out of business. Sue them for malpractice. Sue them for damages. The time has come to fight back.

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