Massachusetts General Study Shows Mild Obesity May Improve Survival in Lou Gehrig's Disease Patients

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In a retrospective study of more than 400 Lou Gehrig's disease patients, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that patients who were mildly obese survived longer than patients who were normal weight, underweight or even overweight, according to a hospital news release.

MGH researchers analyzed data on more than 400 patients who had participated in three clinical trials of potential ALS drugs. Along with the results of initial blood tests taken when participants entered the trials, the researchers had access to follow-up blood tests for almost 200 participants and information on how long each patient survived without needing mechanical ventilation assistance.

Depending on the particular clinical trial, survival data was available for one to two years after study initiation. While higher baseline cholesterol levels were associated with longer survival, that association disappeared when the results were controlled for BMI.  

As expected, the shortest survival was seen in malnourished or morbidly obese patients, but patients in the mildly obese range — featuring a BMI of 30-35 — had the longest survival of any BMI group. Researchers hypothesize the association is due to increased energy reserves available to mildly obese patients.

Read the hospital news release about survival rates of mildly obese patients with Lou Gehrig's disease.

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