For People on Dialysis, Too Thin Can Be Risky

SUNDAY Nov. 1, 2009 -- Dialysis patients with very low body fat are much more likely to die than other people on dialysis, even those with the highest levels of body fat, a new study has found.

Researchers measured body fat percentage in 671 dialysis patients in California. In the next five years, the death rate for people with less than 10 percent body fat was 2½ to three times higher than it was for those with body fat of 20 percent to 30 percent.

Further analysis confirmed a direct link between body fat and risk of death, the researchers reported.

"The higher the body fat, the greater the survival," Dr. Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, said in a news release from the American Society of Nephrology.

"Our study indicates that body fat may be protective in dialysis patients," he said. "The results add to the increasing number of reports about the 'obesity paradox' or 'reverse epidemiology' in patients with chronic kidney disease and other chronic diseases."

The obesity paradox refers to the fact that a higher body-mass index is associated with greater survival in dialysis patients.

The study was to be presented at the American Society of Nephrology's annual meeting in San Diego.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about hemodialysis.

Posted: November 2009


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