Sex-specific activities drive men’s higher risk of ALS

Also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig’s disease often starts with symptoms such as muscle twitching and weakness in an arm or leg.

Eventually, every muscle in the body is affected as those afflicted lose their ability to move, speak, eat and breathe.

It’s a deadly disease, but is it one you should worry about in your future? Here’s what we know…

Only 10 percent of cases are inherited through a gene mutation — and men are much more likely to get an ALS diagnosis than women.

So, men, I hope I have your attention…

The numbers are not on your side. Fortunately, researchers are honing in on your risk factors and have recently found a connection between sex-specific hobbies and ALS.

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Men’s many links to ALS

A study by researchers at the University of Michigan has revealed another layer of risks that are likely responsible for the ALS connection to men.

But before we take a look at the new findings, let’s see what risk factors have previously been identified among the medical community.

Previously uncovered risk factors for ALS include:

  • Military service and playing some professional sports
  • Working in manufacturing, trade industries, mining and chemical operations
  • Working as an electrician, mechanic or train driver
  • Exposure to metals, volatile solvents and combustion pollutants, like diesel fuel

Are you seeing a pattern here? While some women could fall into these areas, the vast majority of people affected by these risk factors are men.

And now Michigan researchers have found that men’s hobbies are also placing them at higher risk for ALS…

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Sex-specific hobbies and pesticide exposure

After surveying 400 people living with ALS and nearly 300 without the condition about hobbies and non-work-related activities, it became clear that certain activities went hand-in-hand with an increased risk of the disease…

  • The team found that golf was associated with a whopping three times greater risk for developing ALS among men.
  • Other activities that carried a heightened risk included gardening, yard work, woodworking and hunting. 

So what gives?

In 2016, the research team found that people with ALS had higher concentrations of pesticides in their blood compared to people without the condition.

A subsequent study published in 2019 linked organochlorine pesticides to worsening survival for ALS.

The answer is and has been toxic exposure.

According to first author Stephen Goutman, M.D., M.S., director of the Pranger ALS Clinic and associate director of the ALS Center of Excellence at University of Michigan, golfing, gardening and yard work may confer risk due to the use of pesticides — a risk already associated with people who have occupations in golf and garden maintenance.

As well, extensive studies of woodworking have led to the conclusion that formaldehyde exposure during the hobby could elevate ALS risk.

Researchers call this lifetime accumulation of toxin exposures the “ALS exposome.”

It’s important to add that the researchers don’t rule out that this exposure could increase ALS risk in women. But as we know fewer women have ALS, the number of females in the study was too small to draw that conclusion

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Reduce exposure to ALS-associated chemicals and toxins

As I was writing this, I came across subsequent research by the same Michigan research team identifying yet another threat: chemicals stored in home garages were significantly associated with ALS risk.

That would include chemicals in gasoline and gasoline-powered equipment, lawn care products, pesticides, paint and woodworking supplies. These chemicals could make it into the household via air flow or by simply opening doors, potentially increasing the ALS risk for all household members.

It goes without saying, and what the researchers stress, is that reducing lifetime exposure is key. Clear out the garage, find an organic golf course in your area and consider safer ways to enjoy these risky hobbies — or better yet, find new ones.

If you think your ALS exposome may be high support your body’s natural detoxification processes. Here are a few ways:

  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and kale contain an abundance of sulfur compounds that help support glutathione production and other detoxification pathways in the body. Glutathione is considered the “master antioxidant” produced by the body. It attaches to toxic molecules and makes them water soluble for easy elimination.
  • EDTA chelation helps clear out heavy metals and other toxins that build up.
  • Probiotics not only support the gut, but can also optimize waste and toxin removal.
  • Chlorella — a green superfood — helps accelerate the excretion of toxins, decreases their absorbency by tissues in the body and acts as a potent antioxidant agent.

Editor’s note: Did you know that when you take your body from acid to alkaline you can boost your energy, lose weight, soothe digestion, avoid illness and achieve wellness? Click here to discover The Alkaline Secret to Ultimate Vitality and revive your life today!


Recreational activities such as golfing, gardening may be associated with increased ALS risk among men — EurekAlert!

Chemicals stored in home garages linked to ALS risk — Science Daily

What is ALS? — ALS Association

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — Mayo Clinic

Who Gets ALS? — ALS Association

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.