Exposure to pesticides and other chemicals may increase the risk for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a fatal neurological disease.
Three toxins in particular were associated with greater risk for the progressive condition, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease because it killed the legendary baseball player.
“We are identifying these toxic, persistent, environmental pollutants in higher amounts in ALS patients compared to those who do not have ALS,” said study co-author Dr. Stephen Goutman. He is assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan and director of its ALS Clinic.
The new study doesn’t prove pesticides cause ALS, but it does build on an association suggested in previous research, Goutman said. Scientists already suspect pesticides may contribute to Parkinson’s disease, another neurodegenerative disorder.
For this study, Goutman and his colleagues evaluated 156 patients with ALS and 128 without the disease. Participants were asked about occupational and residential exposure to environmental toxins. Blood samples were taken to measure pesticide levels.
The researchers looked at 122 environmental chemicals and pesticides. Three in particular were linked to heightened ALS risk, Goutman said.
Persistent exposure to the pesticide cis-chlordane increased ALS risk nearly six fold. Exposure to Penta chlorobenzene – which was used in the manufacture of fungicides – doubled the odds for ALS. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, used as a flame retardant in furnishings and textiles, raised the risk by about 2.7 times, the researchers said.
Military service was also linked to greater risk for developing ALS, but the investigators can’t explain why.
ALS, a progressive disease, affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. As the nerve cells that control muscles die, patients lose the ability to speak, move, and breathe and eat, according the the ALS Association.
The study was published online May 9 in JAMA Neurology.
Persistent Organic Pesticides (POPs) and Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxins (BPTs) consist of a constantly expanding list of chemicals that are building up in our environment and our bodies. As the names suggest the cumulative effects of these compounds are just beginning to investigated.
However, the future does not look good. Many of these chemicals have been banned for years, but continue to accumulate. After years of research to prove the dangers of these organic compounds, they are just replaced with new dangerous compounds.
The Bottom Line:
These three chemicals should be avoided like the plague. I have lost a couple of patients to ALS. It’s a horrible, lingering death. I know these chemicals are not familiar to most of you, but you all know about asbestos and mesothelioma. There are hundreds and maybe thousands of potential asbestos-like chemicals we spew into the environment daily. Understand that those chemicals find their way inside your body. The health of your body is dependent on the health of the planet.
Source: May 9, 2016 National Institutes of Health