Whilst the 2012 European Championship has kicked off in Poland and Ukraine, many of the competitors at Euro 2012 may be putting their health at risk through an overuse of painkillers.
The results of a study about the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, as the BBC reports, has sent some alarm bells ringing in relation to the Euro 2012 soccer championship. The study has revealed that more than two-thirds of footballers taking part in the World Cup used any sort of prescribed medication at some point, with 60.3% taking painkilling drugs at least once.
Many of the medicines taken were anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen) or injected corticosteroids and local anaesthetics.
What has caused concern amongst health professionals, the Daily Mail notes, is that the level of drugs taken represents an increase in use compared with previous World Cups in 2006 in Germany and 2002 in Japan and South Korea.
To put the study into context, though, the research was purely an observational study and it did not look at specific reasons for the prescribing of painkillers.
The research was funded by FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and carried out by the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Center in Switzerland. The study was published in the peer reviewed British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The Guardian quotes Dr Jiri Dvorak, the chief medical officer of football's ruling body, who expresses his concern: "I think we can use the word 'abuse' because the dimension is just too much. Unfortunately there is the trend to increase the intake of medication. It is something that we have to take seriously and ask what is behind it?"
The concern is not only with the amount of pills popped as a statement on FIFA’s website indicates, some players may use painkillers to mask the pain of an existing problem and that this may be “dangerous”.