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What increases my risk for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) occurs most often in men between ages 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis. Caucasian men are more at risk as well. Ten percent of cases are inherited; if one of your parents has ALS, there is a 50 percent chance that you will get it as well. Location is also a risk factor: the populations of Guam, West New Guinea and Japan get ALS more frequently than average. Finally, military service may increase the risk of getting ALS.

There are about 7,000 new cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, diagnosed in the United States each year. There is an inherited form (familial ALS) that accounts for 5 to 10 percent of these cases. There is no racial or ethnic predisposition, and the peak occurrence is during one's 70s and 80s. Men and women are affected equally.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.