The post-infectious fatigue studies – those which follow healthy people as they come down with an infection and then develop ME/CFS – present the possibility of catching the disease in its tracks as it begins to wreak it’s havoc. Expensive and difficult to produce their potential is nevertheless huge.
COFFI, The Collaborative on Fatigue Following Infection, which aims to bring all the post-infective fatigue studies – biological and biopsychosocial – together, presents an opportunity and a possible danger.
A clear “winner” in the biological-psychological battle to explain ME/CFS is emerging but an analysis of a recent set of studies also strikes a cautionary note: it demonstrates how poorly done biological studies can have the opposite effect.
Find out more in the Simmaron Research Foundation sponsored blog:
Catching ME/CFS in the Act: The Collaborative on Fatigue Following Infection (COFFI)
Thanks once again for the excellent blog Cort!
“but why would consuming no alcohol and using medication contribute to a prolonged illness?”
-> The question about alcohol may be a simple one: a low amount of alcohol consumption protects the bowel. See website: naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2011-12/alcohol-consumption-and-risk-colorectal-cancer-0 for the easy to read version and website: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3111915/ for the research paper version titled “Inverse relationship between moderate alcohol intake and rectal cancer: Analysis of the North Carolina Colon Cancer Study”. It also discusses colon cancer with similar results.
In order of colorectal cancer occurrence moderate alcohol consumption is better then no alcohol consumption but heavy alcohol consumption is the worst.
Note that these results are “snowed under” by studies done that do not make the difference between moderate and heavy alcohol consumption. In the UK for example a government ordered study did find this beneficial effect of moderate alcohol consumption but the scientist had been pressured to “rephrase” the findings so that all alcohol consumption appeared bad for health. When the “alteration” in the paper later was exposed by other scientist it created some scandal. The UK government is the same one that ordered the PACE study and they have been caught red faced pressuring the scientist who did the study to the effect of alcohol consumption on health to “alter” the scientific outcome to “what was in line with what government officials desired: a more strict alcohol guideline”.
This effect of alcohol on the bowel may not be that surprising. Bacteria are very competitive creatures often trying to kill of competing species. They produce chemicals that reduce the growth of bacteria including those of their own species but their own species is less affected. Such chemicals, among others are: acetic acid (vinegar), lactic acid, buteric acid and alcohol.
-> All these chemicals, even in moderate amount, can help decrease growth of undesired and or desired bacteria in the gastro internal tract.
Moderate alcohol consumption also is correlated with less infection with Helicobacter Pylori (and other bad ones). That is a bacteria often named in the same sentence as CFS and there is a correlation between this bacteria and colon cancer website: cghjournal.org/article/S1542-3565(16)30704-2/fulltext. It’s a bit hard to quote from this text as it only show the first page as an image. But it says that for moderate alcohol intake H. Pylori infection rates were less. Wine was better then beer. Drinking lots of brandy however made H. Pylori infections worse. Maybe that was enough to destroy the gut?
The bowel has a huge impact on inflammatory response. And plenty of bad bacteria flourishing in it can cause quite an inflammatory up-flare, especially if they manage to cross over into the blood stream.
How that translates to vulnerability to chronic disease is another issue. But I can quite well imagine that people with an increased pre-existing “inflammatory bowel” condition are likely getting their immune system more overwhelmed when a strong infection like EBV is added on top of it compared to people only having to deal with EBV alone.
Well, the strong immune response that EBV must cause draws plenty and plenty of resources from the body. And the gut is the first to be cut off in case of emergency as being “non-urgent”. If it has to fight a “moderate” chronic gut inflammation/infection then it gets into deeper trouble when resources and blood flow are diverted away from it to help fight the EBV infection. That may well allow to entrench the gut condition a lot deeper into the body. If that would cause a sort of reinforced bad gut bacteria uptake in the bloodstream in combination with poor gut health then it would get a person pretty close to a bad vicious circle. This would resemble a lot “some form of chronic sepsis”, a condition CFS is sometimes told by doctors to resemble the most.
As to why medicine consumption could be an indicator for having increased risk of chronic disease? Many of them have side effects on the stomach and gut. Having to deal with a combination of for example EBV, pre-existing gut inflammation/infection and a drug throwing the stomach and or gut out of balance (when blood flow to it is decreased due to the infection) may be quite a hard challenge for the body to cope with.
Note to Cort:
comment being blocked on the Simmaron Research website, probably because I like to include multiple web links. That’s why I changed https://www to “website:” but on the Simmaron Research website I now get a “duplicate send” error.
My explanation for the no alcohol consumption link is far more rudimentary. I suspect a large proportion of people who drink no alcohol at all, do so because they are alcohol intolerant, and are already predisposed to certain health problems. It’s a cause not an effect. Alcohol is a vasodilator, so if you already have flexible blood vessel walls (EDS/hypermobility); low BP; or if your mast cells overreact along the blood vessel walls, then your response is like mine – I feel achey, heavy and want to lie down after just one half a glass of wine. (Tragic) Further to that, some people have asthma, or become intolerant to preservatives as they become more sensitized, and stop drinking. Researchers shouldn’t just ask how much alcohol people drink, thinking only about whether it has a protective or harmful impacts, they should also ask “WHY do you choose not to drink?” Shelley.
What a great explanation….I wonder why I never thought of that? 🙂