(HealthDay News) — Type 2 diabetes may reduce the risk for developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to a new report published in JAMA Neurology.

“Although prior studies have suggested a role of cardiometabolic health on pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the association with diabetes mellitus has not been widely examined. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is the most common motor neuron disorder,” Marianthi-Anna Kiomourtzoglou, ScD, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues wrote.

For the study, the researchers collected data on 3,650 people (average age, 65 years) listed in Danish National Registers who were diagnosed with ALS between 1982 and 2009. They then compared these patients with 365,000 healthy people. 

The researchers also identified 9,294 patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Fifty-five of the patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were later diagnosed with ALS, with an estimated odds ratio for ALS of 0.61 (95% CI, 0.46-0.80) for patients with diabetes. The average age of the diabetes-related diagnosis was 59.7 years. 

Older age at diagnosis for either disease was associated with lower risk for ALS, the researchers said. The odds ratio for first mention of diabetes was 1.66 (95% CI, 0.85-3.21) before age 40 years but 0.52 (95% CI, 0.39-0.70) for older ages.

“We found a protective association between type 2 diabetes and ALS,” Kioumourtzoglou told HealthDay. “This is a very new finding.”


  1. Kioumourtzoglou M-A et al. JAMA Neurol. 2015;doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.0910.