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Is there an association between exposure to chemicals and chronic fatigue syndrome? Review of the evidence

Nacul, L. C., Lacerda, E. M. and Sakellariou, Dikaios 2009. Is there an association between exposure to chemicals and chronic fatigue syndrome? Review of the evidence. Bulletin of the IACFS/ME 17 (1) , pp. 3-15.

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Background: Chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is characterised by persistent or recurrent incapacitating fatigue which can have a considerable impact on the function of the patients. A number of chemical substances have been reported to be associated with fatigue. However, it remains uncertain whether exposure to chemicals at levels usually considered safe is related to chronic fatigue. This paper provides an overview of the existing evidence of association between chemical exposures, particularly in low levels, and CFS/ME. Methods: The Pubmed and the Scopus databases were searched using combinations of relevant terms, including ‘chronic fatigue’, ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’, ‘chemicals’, ‘toxicants’ and the names of specific ‘toxicants’ and classes of toxicants. Standard toxicology textbooks were also reviewed. Results: The existing studies were in small number and had many limitations. Most studies were descriptive and only a handful of analytic studies were located, which seldom compared cases of CFS/ME with healthy controls. None of them was prospective and they were commonly prone to selection and information biases. The results are presented under the subheadings: organophosphates and other pesticides/insecticides; carbon monoxide (CO); heavy metals; solvents, ciguatera and other chemicals; and multiple exposures, including in Gulf War troops. Conclusions: The existing evidence remains inconclusive as to the association between exposure to chemicals and chronic fatigue syndrome, and there is therefore a need for further well designed epidemiological studies.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Publisher: International Association of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 02:53

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