Researchers say that regular strenuous exercise increases the risk of motor neuron disease (MND) in people with a genetic predisposition to the condition.
Scientists at the University of Sheffield have found a causal relationship between high-intensity exercise and dysfunction in people who are already susceptible to the disease.
They believe the work is an important step forward in understanding the link between intense exercise. This can result in motor nerve injury in some people. and neurodegenerative diseases This affects about 5,000 people in the UK.
“We suspected for a while that exercise was a risk factor for MND, but so far This link is considered controversial,” said Sheffield neuroscientist Dr Johnathan Cooper-Knoc. Frequent strenuous exercise increases the risk of MND.”
The lifetime risk of developing MND is about 1in 400, but previous studies suggest that professional soccer players are six times greater than the general population. Several well-known British athletes have shared their experiences with MND in recent years, including Rugby League’s Rob Burrow, Rugby League’s Doddie Weir and footballer Stephen Darby.
The Sheffield researchers emphasize that most people who exercise actively do not develop MND and that their next step is to develop a test that identifies the individuals most at risk.
Scientists wrote in the journal EBioMedicine how they analyzed data from the UK Biobank project, which provides detailed genetic and lifestyle data on half a million people. They found that people with a genetic component that made them more prone to vigorous exercise were also more likely to develop MND.
with vigorous exercise Activity levels change for many genes linked to the condition. Meanwhile, individuals with the mutation, who accounted for 10% of MND, had previously developed the disease if they participated in regular high-intensity exercise.
Professor Dame Pamela Shaw, director of the Sheffield Institute of Neurology, said: “Obviously most people who exercise vigorously There will be no injury to the motor neurons. And more work is needed to identify the precise genetic risk factors involved.”
“The ultimate goal is to identify environmental risk factors that may predispose to MND to inform disease prevention and lifestyle choices.”
MND, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. as the disease progresses Nerve messages are disturbed and eventually stop reaching the muscles. leading to stiffness and loss The disease can greatly impair a person’s ability to move limbs, talk, eat and breathe. while about 10% of cases are inherited. The rest is due to the complex interactions between genes and the environment.