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MDLinxRecreational Activities Such as Golfing, Gardening May Be Associated with Increased ALS Risk Among Men

Exploring the Link Between Recreational Activities and ALS Risk in Men: Implications for Lifestyle and Environmental Exposures

A recent study conducted by Michigan Medicine has uncovered intriguing associations between certain recreational activities and an increased risk of developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in men. The research, focusing on activities such as golfing, gardening, woodworking, and hunting, adds a new dimension to our understanding of ALS risk factors, suggesting that lifestyle choices and environmental exposures play a critical role in the disease’s etiology.

Key Points:

  • The study found that specific recreational activities, including golfing, gardening, woodworking, and hunting, are linked with a higher risk of ALS in men.
  • Golfing was identified as being associated with a threefold increase in ALS risk among male participants.
  • No significant association between the recreational activities studied and ALS risk was found in female participants.
  • The research suggests that the use of pesticides in golfing and gardening, as well as formaldehyde exposure in woodworking, may contribute to the increased risk.
  • The study highlights the concept of the ‘ALS exposome,’ which refers to the lifetime accumulation of environmental exposures that could influence ALS risk.
  • Researchers emphasize the importance of further studies to establish a comprehensive list of ALS risk factors, drawing parallels to the known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Ongoing studies aim to explore the relationship between ALS and occupational exposures, particularly in industries involving metal usage and manufacturing.
  • The findings suggest that lifestyle and environmental factors are significant in ALS risk, pointing toward potential avenues for disease prevention and risk reduction.

“For a disease like Alzheimer’s, we know that a list of factors—including smoking, obesity, and high lipids—can increase risk by 40%. Our goal is to establish a similar list for ALS to create a roadmap to decrease risk. With apologies to Robert Frost, it is currently the ‘road not taken’, and we want to change that.”
– Eva Feldman, MD, PhD; Director of the ALS Center of Excellence at U-M and James W. Albers Distinguished University Professor at U-M

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