Objectives: High-intensity physical activity and sports prone to repetitive injuries of the cervical spine and head (when associated with vigorous practice) have been suggested as possible risk factors for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Our objective was to evaluate the relationship between the practice of contact sports (boxing, hockey, football, rugby) and ALS. Methods: The study included 2247 individuals, 1326 patients and 921 controls from several European countries. Analysis of the effect of contact sports on ALS was conducted in male participants only, as very few women practiced contact sports. Logistic regression models were used with the response variable as the presence or absence of ALS, with α = 0.05 significance level. Results: A relationship between the practice of contact sports and ALS was found, with those practicing contact sports having 76% higher odds of an ALS diagnosis (OR = 1.76, p = 0.001). In addition, univariate analyses for age (higher risk for older people, p < 0.001), smoking status (higher risk for ex-smokers, p = 0.022) and tobacco exposure (higher risk for more exposure, p = 0.038) also indicated that these variables are risk factors for ALS. In multivariate models, in addition to age, the interaction term between practice of contact sports and tobacco exposure was still significant (p = 0.03). Conclusions: This is one of the largest studies on the role of contact sport in ALS development. Our results support the existence of a relationship between the practice of sports with repetitive trauma at the level of the cervical spine and head, and ALS. This risk appears to be enhanced by tobacco exposure.
|Journal||Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 2023|
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- contact sports