April 13, 2024
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Recreational Activities Linked to Increased ALS Risk among Men

Participating in recreational activities such as golfing, gardening, woodworking, and hunting may be associated with a higher risk of developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in men, according to a recent study conducted by Michigan Medicine. The findings, published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences, suggest that while occupational factors have been previously noted to increase the risk of ALS, leisure activities may also play a crucial role.

Dr. Stephen Goutman, the lead author of the study and director of the Pranger ALS Clinic, highlighted the need for further research to understand the impact of these activities on ALS prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The study surveyed 400 individuals with ALS and nearly 300 without the condition to assess their hobbies and non-work related activities.

The results indicated that men who participated in golfing were three times more likely to develop ALS. Additionally, engagement in gardening or yard work, woodworking, and hunting also showed an increased risk among men. Interestingly, no significant associations between recreational activities and ALS were found in females in the study.

Dr. Goutman emphasized the significance of these gender-specific risk factors, pointing out that while the identified activities may also elevate ALS risk in females, the sample size of female participants in the study was insufficient to draw definitive conclusions.

The study contributes to the growing body of evidence suggesting that environmental exposures can influence the likelihood of developing ALS. Known as the ALS exposome, these cumulative exposures over a lifetime are believed to impact ALS risk. For instance, hobbies involving the use of pesticides, such as golfing and gardening, may contribute to the elevated risk.

Dr. Eva Feldman, the senior author of the study, stressed the importance of identifying occupations and hobbies that increase ALS risk as a crucial step towards prevention. Similar to the approach taken with Alzheimer’s disease, where specific risk factors have been identified, the researchers aim to compile a similar list for ALS to develop strategies for risk reduction.

Although ongoing studies are investigating the impact of certain occupations and family history on ALS risk, both Dr. Goutman and Dr. Feldman caution against immediately advising patients to abstain from these recreational activities. Further research is needed to better understand the relationship between leisure pursuits and ALS risk before specific recommendations can be made.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research.
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