Smoking increases, while alcohol consumption may decrease risk of ALS

A population-based case-control study of the rare but devastating neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has shown that the risk of such disease is increased among smokers, as has been shown previously. However, surprisingly, the risk of ALS was found to be markedly lower among consumers of alcohol than among abstainers.

Forum reviewers thought that this was a well-done and important paper, as it is a population-based analysis, with almost 500 cases of ALS, a very large number of cases for this rare disease. They were especially struck by the magnitude of the difference in risk of ALS between alcohol consumers and never drinkers: the risk among drinkers was about one half that of non-drinkers. Said one reviewer: "The results in this study are astonishing in this mysterious disease. One should expect that alcohol, as a toxic agent, rather should contribute to the development of ALS than to prevent it. The lower risk among drinkers compared with non-drinkers is remarkable"

Forum reviewers cautioned that the results of this paper should not be used to prompt people to consume alcohol just to prevent ALS, as it is such a . However, this paper presents important data that could help scientists understand the etiology of ALS and perhaps other more .

More information:  de Jong SW, Huisman MHB, Sutedja NA, van der Kooi, AJ, de Visser M, Schelhaas HJ, Fischer K, Veldink JH, van den Berg LH. Smoking, alcohol consumption, and the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis:A population-based study. Am J Epidemiol 2012;176:233-239

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

International ALS gene search begins

May 16, 2006

U.S. scientists are leading the first international gene search for typical ALS -- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Study supports association of alcohol and diabetes

Mar 29, 2012

Subjects in a cohort in Sweden, some of whom had been exposed to a community intervention program to prevent diabetes, were evaluated 8-10 years after baseline for the presence of diabetes mellitus or impaired glucose metabolism ...

Recommended for you

Ebola aid dogged by coordination lags in Guinea

6 hours ago

Eight months into West Africa's Ebola outbreak, aid efforts in Guinea still suffer from poor coordination, hampering deployments of international support to help quell a virus that has killed more than 1,200 ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.