Background: 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.
Methods: 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).
Results: 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.
Conclusion: 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.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.