WHO'S AT RISK?
According to The Center for Disease Control (CDC), CFS/ME affects more than 1 million
people in the United States. According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, four
in every 1000 Americans are affected by CFS/ME. CFS patients are denied insurance benefits
and do not seek medical treatment.
This illness strikes more people in the
United States than multiple sclerosis, lupus, lung cancer or ovarian cancer. According to
a large 1999 US study, the highest rates of CFS/ME were found among women in general.
Chronic fatigue is most often experienced by individuals 40 to 50 years old; it is least
prevalent in people under 29 or over 60. This disorder, however, occurs in both sexes and
at all ages and in all racial and ethnic groups.
Researchers continue to explore possible causes and risk factors for CFS/ME. Many
questions remain, but there are some characteristics that may help indicate who is
most at risk for CFS/ME:
CFS/ME occurs four times more frequently in women than in men, although people of
either gender can develop the disease.
The illness occurs most often in people in their 40s and 50s, but people of all
ages can get CFS/ME.
Children and adolescents are not immune to its effects. Most studies indicate that girls
are more apt to develop CFS/ME than boys, although one study found the incidence of
the syndrome to be equal. According to a 1999 study, half of the children and adolescents
with CFS/ME also suffer psychiatric disorders, primarily anxiety, and also depression.
CFS/ME occurs in all ethnic and racial groups, and in countries around the world.
Research indicates that CFS/ME is at least as common among African Americans and Hispanics
as it is among Caucasians.
People of all income levels can develop CFS/ME.
CFS/ME is sometimes seen in members of the same family, but there's no evidence that
it's contagious. Instead, there may be a familial or genetic link. Further research is
needed to explore this.
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