Study finds possible connection between smoking and Lou Gehrig's disease

May 02, 2011

Scientists may have discovered a connection between smoking and Lou Gehrig's disease.

Smokers may have a higher risk of developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease, according to a recent study in the Archives of Neurology.

Researchers looked at information for over one million adults from five studies, 832 of whom developed ALS. They discovered that current or previous smokers had about a one in 1,300 chance of developing the illness over a 10-year period, whereas nonsmokers only faced a one in 2,000 chance. Smokers also had a 40 to 45 percent increased risk of death from the disease over nonsmokers, according to researchers.

Though the amount of cigarettes smoked per day did not impact the findings, those who began smoking earlier had a higher risk of ALS than those who began the habit later on in their lives, researchers reported. This study may hint that the relationship between smoking and ALS is not direct, since the amount smoked doesn't increase risk of death from the disease.

Most people with ALS die within 3 to 5 years of the appearance of their symptoms, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Those who quit smoking, in addition to possibly reducing their risk of developing the deadly illness, may also lower their health and life insurance premiums in the process.  

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