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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Smoking, Alcohol Consumption, and the Risk of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Population-based Study

Smoking has been posited as a possible risk factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), but large population-based studies of patients with incident disease are still needed. The authors performed a population-based case-control study in the Netherlands between 2006 and 2009, including 494 patients with incident ALS and 1,599 controls.

To prove the relevance of population-based incidence cohorts in case-control studies, the authors compared results with those from cohorts including patients with prevalent ALS and referral patients. Subjects were sent a questionnaire. Multivariate analyses showed an increased risk of ALS among current smokers (odds ratio = 1.38, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.02, 1.88) in the incident patient group only.

Cox regression models showed that current smoking was also independently associated with shorter survival (hazard ratio = 1.51, 95% CI: 1.07, 2.15), explaining the lack of association in the prevalent and referral patient groups.

Current alcohol consumption was associated with a reduced risk of ALS (incident patient group: odds ratio = 0.52, 95% CI: 0.40, 0.75).

These findings indicate that current smoking is associated with an increased risk of ALS, as well as a worse prognosis, and alcohol consumption is associated with a reduced risk of ALS, further corroborating the role of lifestyle factors in the pathogenesis of ALS.

The importance of population-based incident patient cohorts in identifying risk factors is highlighted by this study.

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