The determinants of length of survival during total fasting are unknown. Media reports of hunger strikers in Northern Ireland have provided some basis for evaluating this question. Such "data" combined with standard concepts of body composition, fuel homeostasis, and responses to therapeutic fasts suggest that death occurred when fat stores were approaching exhaustion. Thus, fat stores may play a central role.
Leiter LA, Marliss EB. Survival During Fasting May Depend on Fat as Well as Protein Stores. JAMA. 1982;248(18):2306–2307. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330180066037
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