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Occupational Exposures Tied to ALS Risk

Greatest risks seen with self-reported occupational metals exposure

FRIDAY, Sept. 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Occupational exposures may increase the risk for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to a study recently published in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health.

Stephen A. Goutman, M.D., from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues identified occupational exposures that are associated with a higher risk for ALS using both survey and standard occupational classification coding procedures. The analysis included 381 ALS and 272 control participants.

The researchers found that ALS participants reported higher duration-adjusted occupational exposure to particulate matter (odds ratio [OR], 1.45), volatile organic compounds (OR, 1.22), metals (OR, 1.48), and combustion and diesel exhaust pollutants (OR, 1.20) prior to ALS diagnosis, when adjusting for sex, age, and military service. Only occupational exposure to metals remained a significant risk (OR, 1.56) in multivariable models, although in an adaptive elastic net model, particulate matter (OR, 1.203), pesticides (OR, 1.015), and metals (OR, 1.334) were all selected as risk factors.

“These data provide important insights into the occupational exposures and settings that increase ALS risk,” the authors write. “Additionally, these data may be informative for ALS prevention strategies designed to limit exposures, especially for people most at risk of developing ALS.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry.

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