Military Veterans Twice as Likely to Develop ALS

Military veterans are twice as likely to develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) as those who haven’t served in the military.

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Despite extensive research into the topic, scientists are still unable to find the link between serving in the military and developing ALS.  According to the ALS Association, the risk is increased regardless of which branch of the military you served in, where you were posted, and even whether you served during war or peace.

While those who served in the Persian Gulf War in 1991 have double the risk, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine, those who served in Vietnam, Korea, or World War II also have a higher risk of ALS.

One theory is that those in the military have a higher risk of being exposed to environmental pollutants such as lead, pesticides, and other toxins. Another is that the extreme physical exertion that servicemen and women undergo may also heighten the risk. Smoking and alcohol consumption are also thought to increase the risk of the disease.

MORE: What research is being done on ALS?

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  1. Van says:

    I believe it may come from a variety of things. The toxics would be number one on my list, especially the synergistic effects of our multiple exposures. A good example of that might be the use of the pesticides, such as insecticides and herbicides on our military installations, aircraft, ships, so on and so forth, in conjunction with one another.
    It may also be because of the needle sticks mixed in there as well. Before going overseas in 1966 we were told we would be getting more than 60 needle sticks. Only 30 are in my shot records.
    On Guam, after WWII, there was a huge outbreak in these types of diseases(ALS and Parkinsons) in the civilian population as well as the military population that invaded the mariannas. Both of these populations were exposed to an extreme amount toxics, especially with pesticides. The military population was also vaccinated against dengue fever because 80% or more of our invading force were coming down with this disease.
    I do believe if there was a desire to know what has caused these diseases, we would know. But money trumps all and science has to take a backseat or is just bought and paid for.

    • Zimple Kurlawala says:

      Thanks for leaving that comment. I am an ALS researcher, with a keen interest in identifying environmental causes of neurodegeneration. You have expanded my thinking by mentioning the preparation aspect for going overseas, not just environmental exposure in foreign lands and in war.

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