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Could Type 2 Diabetes protect us from ALS?

Jun 03, 2015 02:00PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds

A new study (conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston), published in JAMA Neurology, reveals the results of examining the association between diabetes- and obesity-related hospital admissions and the risk of a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Somewhat surprisingly, there actually is a relationship.

The study was prompted by the fact that recent findings have suggested vascular risk factors such as obesity, high cholesterol, and hyperlipidemia are linked to reduced cases of ALS and higher survival rates. Examining the data of diabetes patients is a logical step since patients with Type 2 diabetes tend to have these risk factors.

Danish national register data for 3,650 patients diagnosed with ALS between 1982 and 2009 was used. These patients were compared with 365,000 individuals in a control group. 9,294 patients were identified as having diabetes, 55 of whom were subsequently diagnosed with ALS.

The authors say the findings are in agreement with previous reports: “We conducted a nationwide, population-based study and observed an overall protective association between diabetes and ALS diagnosis, with the suggestion that Type 2 diabetes is protective and Type 1 diabetes is a risk factor.”

--Sarah Hagerty
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