Dr. Agus on new football brain study: "This is a major issue"

Football brain trauma study
Football brain trauma study 03:21

The largest study of brain trauma in football players reveals the risks of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) to players of all ages. Researchers at Boston University examined the brains of 111 deceased NFL players, and found signs of CTE in 110 of them. 

Families of the former football players donated the brains after they suspected injuries. The study also found evidence of CTE in former college players and even younger athletes. 

In a conversation on "CBS This Morning," Dr. David Agus said people should be "very concerned" about CTE, which is a brain disease that is linked to repeated head blows. 

"This is a major issue," he said. "The data points to the earlier you start, the more of a chance this is going to happen."

Agus explained that symptoms of the disease progress and "get more severe" as a person ages. 

"A year ago, the NFL admitted that CTE can be caused  by repetitive head trauma in football," Agus said. "I like that step forward. But I think a lot more needs to be done." 

Agus suggested that the NFL should "assess the rules" and the "protective head gear" that football players wear. 

"We need to change the rules or figure out ways to protect" players, he said. "We need to allow the football players to live a long and normal life." 

The NFL issued a statement saying the league "will continue to work with a wide range of experts to improve the health of current and former NFL athletes," and noting that there are still many unanswered questions on what leads to long term effects from head trauma.  

In 2016, after years of denials, the NFL acknowledged a link between head blows and brain disease and agreed to a $1 billion settlement with former players.