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Virus and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Linked, Scientists Say

Posted Jan 07 2010 10:38am

Scientists recently discovered an interesting link in the research on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome : a virus that blocks immune system, or antibodies to the virus, were found in prostate cancer patients, then in a high percentage of chronic fatigue sufferers:

…cell biologist Judy Mikovits of the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, Nevada, tested 101 chronic fatigue patients. In October she reported that 67 percent of them had the virus, as opposed to only 3.7 percent of healthy people. Tests on another 200 patients revealed that more than 95 percent of people with chronic fatigue carry antibody to the virus, Mikovits says.

The large question mark in the research: What does the link mean? Does the virus help cause Chronic Fatigue–or are Chronic Fatigue sufferers simply less able to fight off the virus?

The simple explanation would be nice. Chronic fatigue sufferers often get told, “it’s all in your head.” Like those of us with asthma, or repetitive stress injuries, the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue mimic emotions like depression. And, since these conditions are invisible and chronic, they seem like hypochondria to those who don’t understand, and further, they often cause people to become more stressed or depressed–leading to an unfortunate cycle and interplay between emotion and physical pain.

But just because there’s a connection between the emotion and pain, does not mean it’s all in our heads. Or as scientists like to say, “Correlation does not imply causation.” So, for the same reasons, we can’t jump to the conclusion that such a virus has caused Chronic Fatigue–even though it would be a satisfying response to people who claim that the condition is merely imagined. However, the virus may lead us closer to finding that explanation…

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