By Bruce Goldman in SCOPE.
A bout of exercise is about the last thing you’d imagine a person with chronic fatigue syndrome – also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis and often designated by the acronym ME/CFS – would want to endure. And you’d probably be right.
But a new study suggests that a blood test following exercise may be a very good way to differentiate between people who have ME/CFS and people who don’t. That’s important, because one of the things that have made efforts to treat and, perhaps, cure the debilitating disorder – which according to Stanford ME/CFS expert Jose Montoya, MD, afflicts between 1 million and 4 million people in the United States alone – almost preternaturally difficult has been the difficulty in establishing a definitive diagnosis for it. (That explains the large range in Montoya’s estimate of the number of people with ME/CFS: A lot of people who have it don’t know they have it – or at least their doctors don’t.)
Recent work by Montoya and other Stanford researchers has identified a “signature” consisting of altered levels of as many as 17 different bloodborne substances in ME/CFS patients. But the signature is written in disappearing ink: Patients with an ME/CFS status of longer than three years in duration appear to lose it. Likewise, levels of some of these substances move in opposite directions among patients whose cases are more severe versus patients with less-severe cases.
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