Researchers at the University of Heidelberg Medical Center say that boxing is perhaps less dangerous for the brain than previously thought, particularly for amateurs.
The researchers say that their suggestion is based on a study wherein they used high-resolution MRI data to search for tiny changes in the brains of amateur boxers, and a comparison group of non-boxers.
The research mainly focussed on microhaemorrhages that may be precursors for later severe brain damage such as Parkinson's disease or dementia, the researchers add.
During the study, three of the 42 boxers were found to have microhaemorrhages as compared to 37 non-boxers who did not show any such change.
Writing about the study's findings in the American Journal of Neuroradiology, the researchers said that the difference was not statistically significant.
They, however, conceded that it was too early to make conclusive statements on the level of danger.
They said that some statement on whether professional boxers like Muhammad Ali contract their later brain conditions, Parkinson's disease at the age of 40 in his case, presumably from boxing could be made only after more extensive studies of both amateur and professional boxers cast new light on the risks for the brain from boxing.
The Heidelberg researchers are currently looking for funding for such a study.