By Adrienne Dellwo, About.com Guide, February, 2011:
The medical community has been aware of fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) for decades, but we have incredibly few answers. What causes these illnesses? Why do they tend to run in families? What are the underlying mechanisms and how can we correct them? Are they communicable? How can we prevent them?
We don't have definitive, widely accepted answers to a single one. We don't have diagnostic tests, and ME/CFS doesn't even have any FDA-approved drugs.
Why don't we have answers? Because we haven't had enough research. And we don't have enough research because the government funding isn't there. We are not the priority. Some people say that's because these aren't fatal diseases -- things like cancer and heart disease and Alzheimer's need the research more. That may be true. While some ME/CFS researchers have turned up good evidence of heart problems and a higher-than-normal incidence of cancer, it doesn't kill at the same rate as some other diseases.
However, an article recently published by ME/CFS Worldwide Patient Alliance shows that FMS and ME/CFS are badly underfunded even when compared to other non-fatal or rarely fatal illnesses.
Is that because more people have MS? Most people would probably expect so, since MS awareness is high, but that's not the case. Look at these prevalence numbers:
Multiple Sclerosis: fewer than 500,000 people
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: at least 1-million people
Fibromyalgia: at least 6-million people
So if funding accounted for prevalence, ME/CFS would get twice as much as MS, ... Read more>>