REPORT: Are Algae Blooms Linked to Lou Gehrig’s Disease?
(SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN) December 11, 2014 – Medical researchers are now uncovering clues that appear to link some cases of ALS to people’s proximity to lakes and coastal waters.
About five years ago, doctors at a New Hampshire hospital noticed a pattern in their ALS patients—many of them, like Gilmore, lived near water. Since then, researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center have identified several ALS hot spots in lake and coastal communities in New England, and they suspect that toxic blooms of blue-green algae—which are becoming more common worldwide—may play a role.
Now scientists are investigating whether breathing a neurotoxin produced by the algae may raise the risk of the disease. They have a long way to go, however: While the toxin does seem to kill nerve cells, no research, even in animals, has confirmed the link to ALS.