Military Veterans Twice as Likely to Develop ALS

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by Wendy Henderson |

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

MORE: Explaining the progression of ALS

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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