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Environ Res. 2012 Aug;117:112-9. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2012.06.007. Epub 2012 Jul 20.

Pesticide exposure as a risk factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies: pesticide exposure as a risk factor for ALS.

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Department of Neurosciences, College of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.



Exposure to pesticides and agricultural chemicals has been linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) although findings have been inconsistent. A meta-analysis of studies published through May, 2011 was conducted to investigate the association of pesticide exposure and risk of ALS.


Six peer-reviewed studies that met criteria were included in a meta-analysis of men involving 1,517 ALS deaths from one retrospective cohort study and 589 ALS or motor neuron disease cases from five case-control studies. A random effects model was used to calculate sex-specific pooled odds ratios (ORs).


Evidence was found for an association of exposure to pesticides and risk of ALS in male cases compared to controls (OR=1.88, 95% CI: 1.36-2.61), although the chemical or class of pesticide was not specified by the majority of studies.


This meta-analysis supports the relationship of exposure to pesticides and development of ALS among male cases compared to controls. The weight of evidence links pesticide exposure to ALS; however, additional prospective studies with a target exposure group are necessary to better elucidate the relationship. Future research should focus on more accurate exposure assessment and the use of job exposure matrices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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