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Too Much Exercise?

A combination of genetic risk and vigorous exercise could contribute to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to research covered by Live Science yesterday.

In a study published The Lancet earlier this year, Stanford University genetics chair Michael Snyder and colleagues considered genetic, exercise, and other data for hundreds of thousands of UK Biobank project participants; measured blood expression profiles for the C9orf72 ALS risk gene and other genes in dozens more individuals after aerobic exercise; and considered exercise habits of ALS patients that did or did not carry an ALS-related C9orf72 mutation.

Based on their analyses, they suggest that intense exercise may be linked to earlier-than-usual ALS diagnoses in individuals who are genetically predisposed to the progressive, motor neuron-affecting neurodegenerative condition.

"While strenuous exercise increased the risk of ALS, being sedentary did not decrease the risk of developing ALS, nor did having more body fat," orthopedic sports medicine surgeon Jonathan D. Gelber writes in Live Science, though he cautions that "the researchers are not recommending that any ALS patient or family members, including individuals with C9orf72 mutations, change their exercise habits. More work needs to be done in a larger cohort, because the way the gene is expressed could vary a lot, the researchers said."

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