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Is Virus Behind Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome has been extremely controversial since it was first identified in the 1980s. No cause is known, and many physicians are skeptical that it is even a real medical condition. They have suggested that many sufferers have depression or other psychological problems causing the symptoms of extreme tiredness and chronic pain.
Now, however, scientists in Nevada report that they have identified an obscure retrovirus in the blood of many people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. The retrovirus, called XMRV, seems to affect immune system cells called natural killer cells. Only 4 percent of healthy people had evidence of the virus, while 68 out of 101 people with CFS were found to harbor it. That doesn’t show that the virus causes the problem, but it is certainly an interesting development towards possibly finding a treatment for a complicated condition. The XMRV virus has been linked previously to aggressive prostate tumors.
[Science, October 9, 2009]

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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