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Study Points to CFS as Risk Factor for Earlier Death

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By Editor • • July 25, 2006

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients may face increased risk of death at an earlier age than the norm, according to a recent study led by CFS expert Leonard A. Jason, PhD, at Chicago’s DePaul University. The researchers analyzed a sample of 166 deceased CFS patients taken from a CFIDS Foundation memorial list. They found that the predominant causes of death were heart failure, cancer, and suicide, each accounting for about 20 percent of all the deaths. Further, on average the 100 CFS patients who died of heart failure, cancer, or suicide were younger by 24.4 years, 24.2 years, and 8.5 years, respectively, than those who die of these causes in the overall population. The Statistics The average ages at death were:
  • 47.8 years for the CFS cancer deaths, versus an average of 72.0 years for cancer deaths among the population overall.
  • 58.7 years for the CFS heart failure deaths, versus 83.1 years for the population overall.
  • 39.5 years for the CFS suicides, compared with 48.0 years for suicides in the overall population.
Need For Further Study The patient sample included more women than men, as would be expected given the greater incidence of CFS diagnoses in women. But, because the study sample was small, a larger sample would be needed to investigate possible gender-related differences in cause/age of death. Further, the data lacked such details as what type of heart failure or cancer was involved, the mix of patients’ geographic origins, and reliability of diagnosis. Tie-In with Other Research Directions Still, this analysis is expected to spark additional research, given newly revised statistics from the CDC that peg the U.S. population with CFS at more than four million. Additionally, the DePaul researchers point out, the three predominant causes of death in these 166 patients correspond with a growing number of studies associating CFS with specific heart problems, immune function abnormalities, and demoralization. The study report, “Causes of death among patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,” by Leonard A. Jason, PhD, et al., will be published in the August 2006 issue of Health Care for Women International.

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