Epidemiology of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Incidence[edit | edit source]

Estimates of the prevalence vary widely, owing in part to the variety of definitions used. Estimates range from 0.025%[1] to 0.3% of the population.

In the US, it affects 836,000 to 2.5 million people.[2]

In Australia, up to 242,000 people have CFS (including 94,000 with ME which is a narrower definition).[3]

In 1999, a community-based study by Dr Leonard Jason, et al, performed in the Chicago area found that:

  • CFS was substantially higher among women than men,
  • individuals who identified as people of color exhibited higher rates of CFS than whites, with Latino participants demonstrating the highest CFS prevalence,
  • individuals in the 40- to 49-year-old age range exhibited the highest rates of CFS,
  • the prevalence of CFS was highest among skilled workers and lowest among professionals.[4]

Severity[edit | edit source]

Comparison of disability for ME/CFS and other conditions

People with ME/CFS are more disabled and socially marginalized than for most other chronic illnesses.[5]

Around 25 per cent of people with ME/CFS will have a mild form and be able to get to school or work either part-time or full-time, while reducing other activities. About 50 per cent will have a moderate to severe form of ME/CFS and not be able to get to school or work. Another 25 per cent will experience severe ME/CFS and have to stay at home or in bed.[6]

In the US, 50-75% of patients with ME/CFS cannot work.[7]

Demographic factors[edit | edit source]

Gender[edit | edit source]

Various studies have estimated that 70-80% are women.[8]

Naviaux found women with ME/CFS, but not men, generally had disturbed fatty acid and endocannabinoid metabolism. Men, but not women, generally showed increased serine and threonine concentrations. [9]

Age[edit | edit source]

A study in Norway found two age peaks, one between 10 and 19 years and a second peak between 30 and 39 years.[10]

Race[edit | edit source]

Risk factors[edit | edit source]

Genetics[edit | edit source]

See also: Genetics of chronic fatigue syndrome

5% of children of mothers with ME/CFS later developed the illness.[11]

Prognosis[edit | edit source]

On average, many people with ME/CFS will improve in the first five years, but others may mainly stay at home or in bed, or may suffer relapses throughout their lives.[12]

Mortality[edit | edit source]

One study found no increased risk of all cause mortality or mortality from cancer but an increased risk of suicide. Suicide risk was increased 6.85 compared to the general population.[13] It was based on a cohort that used multiple clinical criteria, including the Oxford criteria.[14] A Spanish study found a suicide risk of 12.75% versus 2.3% in the general population.[15]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Two age peaks in the incidence of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a population-based registry study from Norway 2008-2012
  2. Reference needed
  3. Emerge Quarterly Journal, AUTUMN 2016 - Vol 36 - No 1, page 14, Mar 2016
  4. Jason, LA; Richman, JA; Rademaker, AW; Jordan, KM; Plioplys, AV; Taylor, RR; McCready, W; Huang, C; Plioplys, S (1999), "A Community-Based Study of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome", Arch Intern Med, 159 (18): 2129-2137, doi:10.1001/archinte.159.18.2129 
  5. Falk Hvidberg et al, The Health-Related Quality of Life for Patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), PLOS One, 5 Jul 2015.
  6. reference needed
  7. references needed
  8. Two age peaks in the incidence of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a population-based registry study from Norway 2008-2012
  9. http://www.meaction.net/2016/08/30/naviauxs-metabolism-paper-is-about-as-big-as-you-think/
  10. Two age peaks in the incidence of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a population-based registry study from Norway 2008-2012
  11. http://www.njcfsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Pregnancy-in-Women-with-ME-CFS.pdf
  12. reference needed
  13. Mortality of people with chronic fatigue syndrome: a retrospective cohort study in England and Wales from the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust Biomedical Research Centre (SLaM BRC) Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) Register
  14. Interpretive jiggery-pokery in The Lancet A tale of a convenience sample with inconvenient serious limitations. Quick Thoughts, a blog by James Coyne, February 16, 2016
  15. https://afectadasporlosrecortessanitarios.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/risk-of-suicide-due-to-neglect-amongst-pwme/


The information provided at this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness.

From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history