New Study Shows That Golfing May Increase ALS Risk Among Men

In Education

A recent report from Michigan Medicine suggests a link between recreational activities like golfing and gardening and the risk of developing ALS. Researchers have identified repeated exposure to pesticides as a potential cause for this heightened risk.

Golfing and gardening increases risk of ALS

The study revealed a correlation between playing golf and a threefold increase in the risk of developing ALS, a degenerative nerve disease resulting in paralysis and death. Additionally, other leisure activities associated with ALS included gardening, yard work, woodworking, and hunting.

ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to the degeneration and death of motor neurons responsible for muscle control. Its cause involves genetic and environmental factors, with no known cure; treatment focuses on symptom relief and improving quality of life.

Lead author and e Pranger ALS Clinic director, Stephen Goutman, said that they are aware that occupational hazards, such as employment in manufacturing and trade sectors, are associated with a heightened susceptibility to ALS. This contributes to a burgeoning body of literature suggesting that recreational activities could also serve as significant and potentially adjustable risk factors for ALS.

A study conducted by researchers in Michigan surveyed 400 individuals with ALS and 300 without the disease, examining their hobbies and non-work-related activities. They discovered a connection between certain activities and ALS risk, primarily among men.

However, this correlation was not observed among women. Goutman noted the surprise at the specificity of these risk factors to males, though they couldn’t draw conclusions for females due to the small sample size of women in the study.

Formaldehyde exposure linked to ALS

Researchers have identified pesticides, particularly formaldehyde exposure during outdoor activities like golfing or yard work, as a potential cause of ALS. Understanding the link between certain occupations and hobbies and ALS risk is crucial for prevention efforts, according to Dr. Eva Feldman, senior author of the study.

Although there is a possible link between ALS and activities like golf, it’s premature to recommend men to cease golfing. Past research highlights the significant health advantages of recreational activities.

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