It’s time to have a serious talk about boxing and kids.
This week, North America’s largest group of pediatricians urged parents and doctors to, quote: “vigorously oppose” boxing for any child or adolescent. That’s because of recent studies linking boxing to a higher risk of serious brain injuries in children.
That’s a problem, according to pediatrician Dr. Hans Forstl. He says boxing is one of the only sports where the goal is to literally hurt your opponent. And he says over time, the force of all those blows to the body and head can have serious consequences.
For example: Studies show that immediately after a fight, boxers have increased production of a brain compound found in many Alzheimer’s patients. Also, statistics show that one-in-five professional boxers end up with a brain injury associated with dementia.
Despite the risks, thousands of North American kids continue to box each year. Fans say it’s because boxing teaches kids about discipline and having a strong work ethic. In fact, many boxers credit the sport with helping them find direction in life.
But for those who claim boxing has gotten safer over the years, Dr. Forstl offers this advice: He says there’s not much you can do to increase the health of your brain when you get old. But there’s one sure thing you can do to improve it while you’re young: That’s “avoid boxing.”