It’s a bit of bad news for those working in the funeral business, as their preferred embalming fluid turns out to be more and more dangerous. On top of it being a carcinogen, it’s now been discovered that formaldehyde may cause ALS, as people working with the chemical show a much higher risk of developing the condition.
Last year, the motor-neuron disease known informally as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, has been the subject of many a YouTube video as the #IceBucketChallenge went more than viral on all social-media platforms. The money raised through the campaign has, naturally, spurred many new and interesting studies on the disease.
One of the studies, published just last month, has uncovered that people with type 2 diabetes are much more unlikely to develop this type of sclerosis than those who did not have the metabolic disease. Type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, has been named by the same study as increasing the risk factor for ALS. The doctors from said study then admitted that the association between the three types of dysfunctionalities had not appeared to them at that point. Thus, nobody knows why the above is true.
For this specific study, which appeared in the latest issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, researchers concluded that formaldehyde is definitely linked with the onset of the motor-neuron disease.
Using data found in the National Longitudinal Mortality Study, the scientists concluded that the great majority of people exposed to the chemical on a daily basis are funeral directors. The results, however, showed disproportionate risk of ALS between men and women in the same job position.
The authors speculate that exposure in this line of work may vary by gender.
Formaldehyde is not only used in embalming fluid. It is also a common ingredient in a great deal of household cleaning products. It can both disinfect, as well as preserve the surfaces it is applied on, therefore, its popularity is easy to understand.
However, besides increased risk of ALS, Formaldehyde is also dangerous because it causes coughing, nausea, as well as skin irritation. These are all immediate effects which go away once the individual is not exposed to the chemical any longer. Yet, the chemical has just recently been named on the list of carcinogens, and exposure to it may permanently increase your risk of developing a form of cancer.
Lou Gehrig’s disease is an extremely severe condition which should not be taken lightly. Its widespread popularization last year was definitely not misplaced as the suffering caused by the sclerosis stretches to inhumane levels. However, it is a very rare affection, only pertaining to 1.5 to 2.5 individuals in 100 thousand people.
Many famous people have suffered from this disease, from Lou Gehrig, the famous baseball player, to Stephen Hawking, the famous physicist. The latter being diagnosed very early in life, far outlived the typical prognosis of three remaining years of life.
The struggle with ALS remains very complex, since doctors still don’t even know exactly why the disease appears.
Image source: medicalnewstoday.com