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Research Letter
July 22, 2019

All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality Among Major League Baseball Players

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston
  • 3Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 4Sean M. Healey & AMG Center for ALS at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(9):1298-1301. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.1218

There has been increasing attention to professional athletes’ long-term health. A few studies1-3 reported lower all-cause mortality among Major League Baseball (MLB) players compared with US males, but only 1 study with a small sample (n = 985) examined specific causes of death and reported largely nonsignificant results.3 Players in MLB may have lower cause-specific mortality rates because of fitness associated with playing baseball, but other sport-related aspects—injuries, lifestyle habits, or environmental exposures particular to baseball—could adversely affect players’ health. We recently found lower mortality rates among MLB players overall and for certain specific causes compared with National Football League players, all of whom had playing careers of 5 years or longer.4 To better understand risks compared with the general public, we examined mortality rates among MLB players, including specific causes of death and differences by career length and position.

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