Blood Test Measures ALS Risk From Environmental Toxins

New Blood Test Detects Risk of ALS from Environmental Toxins

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New blood test predicts risk of ALS from toxins.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS, is no joke. This debilitating disease has no cure in sight. But fear not, my friends, for researchers at the University of Michigan are here to lend a helping hand. They’ve developed an environmental risk score that can assess a person’s chances of developing ALS, as well as their survival rate after diagnosis. Cue the dramatic music!

Now, you may be wondering, “How on earth do they do this?” Well, my dear readers, it’s all about those nasty toxins lurking in our environment. Pesticides and carcinogenic PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) play a significant role in determining your risk of developing and, gulp, dying from ALS. But fear not, for science has come up with a solution.

This risk score utilizes the power of blood samples. Yes, that’s right, a simple tube of blood can now tell us if our bodies have become playmates with these poisonous substances. Dr. Stephen Goutman, the director of the Pranger ALS Clinic at the University of Michigan, exclaims, “For the first time, we have a means to collect a tube of blood and determine a person’s ALS risk based on exposure to countless toxins in the environment.” How’s that for an innovation, folks?

To conduct their groundbreaking study, these researchers gathered over 250 blood samples from folks in Michigan. Some had ALS, while others were lucky enough to be living without this debilitating disease. The team then crunched the numbers and created individual risk and survival models using 36 organic pollutants. And what did they find, you ask? Well, certain pollutants were significantly linked to an increased risk of ALS. Yikes!

Listen up, folks, because this next bit is crucial. The biggest risk of developing ALS was associated with a cocktail of pesticides swarming around in the bloodstream. If you found yourself in the highest exposure group, you had twice the risk of developing this wretched disease compared to those in the lowest exposure group. It’s as if the pesticides had a party in your body and it was definitely a wild one.

Dr. Eva Feldman, the director of the NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies at Michigan Medicine, emphasizes the importance of this study. She proclaims, “Our results underscore the wide-reaching impact of environmental pollution on ALS and other diseases.” Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a drill, but a wake-up call. The pesticides have invaded our bodies, and it’s time we take action.

But fear not, for there is hope on the horizon. You see, these blood samples hold tremendous power. They allow us to assess disease risk and shape strategies for prevention. Dr. Feldman points out that environmental risk scores have already proven effective in other diseases, like cancer. Combining genetic risk with environmental pollutants can be a potent force in our arsenal against these silent killers. It’s time to fight back!

Now, here’s a little bonus fact for you. This team of researchers has previously discovered elevated levels of pesticides in the blood of ALS patients. And as if that wasn’t enough, they’ve also shown that exposure to organic pollutants speeds up ALS progression and worsens outcomes. The stakes are high, my friends, but knowledge is power. And we’re armed with that power today.

So, let’s not sweep this under the rug, shall we? This research, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, is a wake-up call. We need to tackle these pollutants head-on, both for the sake of those suffering from ALS and for ourselves. The National ALS Registry/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, along with the National Institutes of Health and other supporters, have got our backs. Together, we can make a difference!

So, dear readers, what are your thoughts on this groundbreaking research? Are you surprised by the impact of environmental toxins on ALS risk? Have you ever wondered what’s lurking in your own bloodstream? Let’s talk in the comments below! And remember, knowledge is power, so let’s stay informed and support each other in our journey towards a healthier future.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on ALS.

SOURCE: Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan, news release, Oct. 30, 2023