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November 12, 1982

Survival During Fasting May Depend on Fat as Well as Protein Stores

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine, University of Toronto (Dr Leiter) and McGill University, Montreal (Dr Marliss).

JAMA. 1982;248(18):2306-2307. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330180066037

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.

(JAMA 1982;248:2306-2307)