Monday, February 7, 2011

Optimism grows for treatment of CFS

Written by Shari Rudavsky,

No one could tell Karen LeVier why she was not shaking the flu. Not only did her throat feel sore and her sinuses infected, she had such overwhelming fatigue she could not shower. The malaise continued for a year and a half, during which LeVier, a once healthy woman in her 30s, stopped working and sold her house.

No one could pin down a diagnosis, and over the next eight years, LeVier stumbled through months when she could make it through the day but not have enough energy to cook dinner.

In 2006, LeVier, now 50, developed orthostatic intolerance, meaning her heartbeat would increase and blood pressure drop when she stood, making her dizzy. Doctors finally diagnosed her with chronic fatigue syndrome.

As her story shows, there's no clear test for the syndrome, which is most common in women between ages 20 and 40 and which affects about 1 million people in the United States.

That could change. Research in the past year and a half suggests there could be a link between chronic fatigue syndrome and XMRV, a retrovirus also associated with prostate cancer. This has renewed hope of developing a diagnostic test as well as treatment.

In December, a patient advocacy group -- Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Worldwide Patient Alliance -- took out an advertisement in The Washington Post, highlighting the discovery and calling for additional research. While only 7 percent of healthy blood donors were found to carry the virus, 87 percent of people with chronic fatigue syndrome had it. Read more>>

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