Motor neurone disease

Is alcohol a risk factor for motor neurone disease?

Association between alcohol exposure and the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the Euro-MOTOR study.

D’Ovidio F, Rooney JPK, Visser AE, et al; Euro-MOTOR consortium.

JNNP 2019; 90:11-19.



Several studies focused on the association between alcohol consumption and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), although with inconsistent findings. Antioxidants may play a role since lyophilised red wine was found to prolong SOD1 mice lifespan. The aim of this international population-based case-control study performed in Ireland, The Netherlands and Italy was to assess the role of alcohol, and red wine in particular, in developing ALS.


Euro-MOTOR is a case-control study where patients with incident ALS and controls matched for gender, age and area of residency were recruited in a population-based design. Logistic regression models adjusted for sex, age, cohort, education, leisure time physical activity, smoking, heart problems, hypertension, stroke, cholesterol and diabetes were performed.


1557 patients with ALS and 2922 controls were enrolled in the studyExposure to alcohol drinking was not significantly associated with ALS risk. A stratified analysis of exposure to alcohol by cohort revealed significant ORs in The Netherlands and in Apulia, with opposite directions (respectively 0.68 and 2.38). With regard to red wine consumption, only in Apulia the double-fold increased risk (OR 2.53) remained significant. A decreased risk was found for current alcohol drinkers (OR 0.83), while a significantly increased risk was detected among former drinkers (OR 1.63). Analysis of cumulative exposure to alcohol revealed no significant associations with ALS risk.


With few exceptions, no significant association was found between alcohol consumption and ALS.  The study of the association between alcohol and ALS requires a thorough exploration, especially considering the role of different types of alcoholic beverages.

This paper is cited in the neurochecklist:

Motor neurone disease (MND): protective and neutral risk factors

Abstract link

By Nik Frey (niksan) – stock.xchng: [dead link], CC BY 2.5, Link

By Ibrahim Imam

I am a UK Neurologist keen on general neurology, but with an interest in neuromuscular diseases. I maintain the neurology searchable database, I also blog at I share and discuss current issues around clinical neurology. I hope you find my blogs enlightening, practical, and even entertaining.

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