24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Medical Disorders
Resources
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
Chinese Scientists Cut Local Numbers of Dangerous Mosquito by 94%Health Tip: Recognizing Heat ExhaustionInsect Stings Are Just a Buzzkill for Most FolksDisinfectants Can't Stop This Dangerous Hospital GermHealth Tip: Working in Extreme HeatHealth Tip: Diarrhea in KidsHow to Protect Your DNA for Big Health BenefitsNewer Lung Cancer Screening Saves More LivesHigh Blood Pressure, 'Bad' Cholesterol Risky for Young, TooSummer Can Be Hard on Your HearingMany Pneumonia Patients Get Too Many AntibioticsAdopt a Diet That's Good for Your GutAHA News: 5 Threats to Heart Health You May Not Be Aware OfTongue, Lip Snip Surgeries May Be Overused in U.S. NewbornsHealth Tip: Foods With LactoseHealth Tip: Living With Celiac DiseaseMore Evidence Fried Food Ups Heart Disease, Stroke RiskBrain Injury Often a Devastating Side Effect of Domestic ViolenceNew Migraine Drug Might Help When Other Meds Don'tXpovio With Dexamethasone Approved for Refractory Multiple MyelomaPoor Social Life Could Spell Trouble for Older Women's BonesIs Your Mattress Releasing Toxins While You Sleep?Zika's Damage Continues in Children Infected Before BirthCDC Warns of Start to 'Season' for Mysterious Paralyzing Illness in KidsShould You Try Allergen Immunotherapy?Dangerous UTIs Can Follow Hospital Patients HomeMore Evidence Supplements Won't Help the Heart'Semi-Slug' Is Spreading a Lethal Parasite in HawaiiAHA News: 'Surprising' Lack of Progress on Heart Disease in Younger AdultsSmall Vessel Disease Leaves Patients Vulnerable to Leg AmputationHealth Tip: Eating Out If You Have a Food AllergyHow to Create a Diet That Lowers Your CholesterolHow Protect Against Short- and Long-Term Sun DamageSurgeons Give 13 Paralyzed Adults Hand, Arm MovementIt's Mosquito Season: Here's How to Protect YourselfConcussion Recovery Isn't the Same for Every Football PlayerOften Feel Bloated? One Ingredient May Be to BlameFor Many, Pot Is Now an Alternative to Opioids or Sleep MedsSurgery Helps Babies Missing a Heart Chamber Survive, But Problems LingerAnti-Vaccine Movement a 'Man-Made' Health Crisis, Scientists WarnCan Stem Cells Be the Cure for Baldness?Cancer Risk Rises After Iodine Rx for Overactive Thyroid: StudyGut Bacteria Supplements Might Boost Obese People's HealthEye Injuries From Fireworks in U.S. Have Nearly DoubledHealth Tip: Swallowing ProblemsMedtronic Recalls Some Insulin Pumps as FDA Warns They Could Be HackedAir Pollution Bad News for Your Blood PressureFDA Approves First Drug for Sinusitis With Nasal PolypsInfections, Especially UTIs, May Be Triggers for StrokesCould Heavier Folks Be at Lower Risk for ALS?
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Diabetes

Could Heavier Folks Be at Lower Risk for ALS?

HealthDay News
by By Steven ReinbergHealthDay Reporter
Updated: Jun 26th 2019

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, June 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- It's not often that anything good is associated with obesity. Yet heavy folks and those who bulk up as they age may have less risk for the deadly disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a new study finds.

The Norwegian study found that over several decades, people who packed on the most weight had a 37% lower risk of ALS compared to those who maintained their figure or got thinner.

ALS -- also called Lou Gehrig's disease -- is a rare neurodegenerative disease that kills nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. You lose control of your muscles, which can lead to paralysis and death two to five years after diagnosis, researchers said.

"This study provides a basis for future research to focus on possibilities to prevent or treat ALS on factors linked to body size and energy expenditure," said lead researcher Dr. Ola Nakken.

Nakken, of the University of Oslo in Norway, cautioned that these findings can't prove that being overweight prevents ALS, as only an association was observed. Nor should you think the findings give you license to fatten up. They don't, he said.

Although the reasons why weight might be protective aren't known, Nakken thinks that increased bulk may add to a person's energy reserve.

"It has become increasingly clear that motor neurons, which are the main cells involved in ALS, are remarkably vulnerable to energy depletion," Nakken said.

It's also possible that genetic factors that lower the risk for ALS may also play a part in weight gain, without one causing the other. In addition, environmental factors may be associated with both weight and the risk of ALS, the researchers said.

"Physical activity and smoking are examples of such factors. However, adjusting for this in our study did not change the results," Nakken said.

According to the ALS Association, about 5,000 Americans are diagnosed with ALS each year. The disease usually strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70, but can occur earlier.

Family history of ALS plays no role in 90% of the cases. The other 10% are caused by an inherited gene mutation.

For the study, Nakken and his team collected data on nearly 1.5 million Norwegians ages 20 to 70 between 1963 and 1975. They tracked cases of ALS until 2017. Nearly 3,000 developed the disease in that time period, with most followed an average of 33 years.

Those who started out at a normal weight but gained pounds over time had a 17% lower risk for ALS for each 5-point increase in body mass index (BMI), the study found. BMI is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight.

Over the length of the study, those who were obese when it began had 34% lower odds of developing ALS, compared with those with low to normal BMI. Overweight people had an 18% lower risk, the researchers reported.

The study results were published online June 26 in the journal Neurology.

However, some cautions are in order, one neurologist suggested.

The understanding of how ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases develop doesn't include weight as either a cause or a preventative, said Dr. Carmel Armon, from the department of neurology at Tel Aviv University Sackler School of Medicine in Israel.

"We also cannot speculate that elevated BMI directly increases the resistance of the motor neurons to the development of ALS," he said.

Armon is co-author of an accompanying journal editorial. He warned against gaining weight in the hope of preventing ALS.

"The health risks of high BMI outweigh any protective effect it might confer on ALS occurrence," Armon said. "The findings do not allow us to conclude such a protective effect exists."

More information

The ALS Association offers more facts on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.