Fivefold to eightfold increase in the incidence of ME from 1980 to 1989 - Pesticides.

Remy

Administrator
What follows is a very interesting and well-researched perspective, posted here with permission by @Hip...

"In the 1980s, there was a huge increase in the incidence of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) .

Indeed, this huge increase became a major concern for disability insurance companies in the US, who as a consequence became obliged to fork out billions extra to cover disability payments for this massive wave of new ME patients.

This surge of new ME cases in the 1980s seemingly prompted the government in the US, in cahoots with the disability insurance industry, to create the spurious disease classification of chronic fatigue syndrome, which was in a Machiavellian fashion set up as a condition having a psychological causal component (unlike the existing and otherwise identical disease category of ME, which was classified as purely neurological).

The fact that the definition of CFS included possible psychological causes was enough to let the disability insurance companies off the hook, in regards to paying billions in disability support to chronically sick ME patients. Using this newly-created disease of CFS, disability insurance companies could now refuse to provide disability support to ME patients who were now re-labelled as CFS patients.

They could refuse to provide disability support because regulations are such that although insurance companies are obliged to provide lifetime disability support for chronic crippling physical diseases and conditions, they do not need to provide long-term disability payouts for psychological conditions.

So the invention of the duplicate disease classification of chronic fatigue syndrome was a cunning but morally reprehensible way for the insurance industry to duck out of paying ME patients disability support, thus saving these insurance companies billions in the wake of this surge in ME incidence in the 1980s.

And of course, although the disability insurance industry's Machiavellian plan was only designed to save them money and maintain their profits, the result of inappropriately relabelling ME as CFS with its psychologically-flavored etiology, had huge repercussion beyond the disability insurance industry's profit protection ruse.

As medical science started to erroneously reclassify ME as this "all in the mind" condition of CFS, doctors would often no longer treat ME patients seriously. And biomedical research into ME risked falling into the doldrums, as medical professionals, duped like everybody else by the disability insurance industry, incorrectly viewed ME as having a psychological not physiological cause.



Here are some references for this increase in ME incidence in the 1980s:

This article by Dr Elizabeth Dowsett and Dr John Richardson states that for ME there was:
A 5-8 fold increment world wide, during the period 1980-1989, since when it has remained an endemic disease with periodic epidemic potential.
Here is says:
In the mid 1980’s, the incidence of ME had increased by some seven times in Canada and the UK, while in the USA a major outbreak at Lake Tahoe (wrongly ascribed at first to a herpes virus) led to calls for a new name and new definition for the disease, more descriptive of herpes infection.
The original source for that statement is an article by Dr Elizabeth Dowsett, entitled "Research into ME 1988 - 1998 Too much PHILOSOPHY and too little BASIC SCIENCE!".

This article by Dr Elizabeth Dowsett mentions:
the pandemic between 1980 and 1989 when there was a seven-fold increase in incidence both here and abroad.
An article by Professor Hooper, et al states:
In the US in the late 1970s and 1980s there seemed to be a remarkable rise in incidence of a condition indistinguishable from ME, with manifestations of serious neuro-immune disease and profound incapacity, to the extent that the powerful insurance industry became alarmed.

The insurance industry was concerned that, because there is no National Health Service in the US: "the field could change from an epidemiological investigation into a health insurance nightmare."


OK, the Machiavellian manipulations of government and medical science pulled off by the disability insurance industry are one thing; but another issue is, what actually caused this huge increase in ME incidence in the 1980s, assuming it was a real increase, and not just an increase in diagnosis?

What could have caused a 5 to 8-fold worldwide increase in the incidence of ME? That is an enormous increase.

One factor that I have singled out as a possible culprit is the large increase in pesticide usage that occurred from the 1960 to 1980. This increase is shown in the graph here:


Source: here.

Studies have shown that pesticide exposure significantly increases the risk of developing ME (ref: 1). In one study, farmers using organophosphate-based "sheep dip" in Scotland were found to have rates of ME four times higher than the national average (ref: 1). So this study suggests major exposure to organophosphates increases the risk developing ME by 4 times.

Pyrethroid pesticides have been linked to ME as well (ref: 1).

Organochlorine pesticides such as DDT and dieldrin have also been linked to ME (refs: 1 2), but most organochlorines have been banned for several decades now.

So the significant increase in pesticide usage that peaked in the 1980s and has remained high ever since might explain the huge increase in ME incidence in the 1980s that has also remained high ever since.



Though might there have been some other environmental factors that appeared or greatly increased in during 1970s or 1980s that could have been responsible for this large increase in the incidence of ME cases during this era?"
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Call me naive but I do not believe there was some conspiracy to name ME/CFS in such a way as to benefit the insurance companies. I think the creators of the name - which included Dr. Komaroff - had problems calling the illness they saw in Incline Village and New York and Florida the same name as the outbreaks seen earlier in the UK. I think symptomatically they were too different, and, in fact, the outbreaks in the UK differed amongst themselves to some degree...

I think they simply named the disease after its most prominent symptom.

This doesn't let the insurance companies off the hook; after ME/CFS and fibromyalgia became prevalent from what I read they certainly made it as difficult as possible to get covered. In fact If I remember correctly one insurance vowed to never cover an ME/CFS patient and developed a technique to ensure that they didn't. They also included it under mental health which allowed them to stop coverage after a couple of years.
 

Remy

Administrator
Call me naive but I do not believe there was some conspiracy to name ME/CFS in such a way as to benefit the insurance companies. I think the creators of the name - which included Dr. Komaroff - had problems calling the illness they saw in Incline Village and New York and Florida the same name as the outbreaks seen earlier in the UK. I think symptomatically they were too different, and, in fact, the outbreaks in the UK differed amongst themselves to some degree...

I think they simply named the disease after its most prominent symptom.
I don't think there would have to be a huge conspiracy...it probably was pretty simple to let insurance off the hook because to this day we are still looking for the root cause(s).

What I think is interesting is the pesticide link...is it just a coincidence that my first major relapse coincided with living in a house with the worst ant infestation the exterminator had ever seen? My house and yard were literally sprayed down multiple times with god knows what sort of insecticide...I used to lay directly in the sprayed yard and sunbathe,
 

Who Me?

Well-Known Member
In the movie Forgotten Plague, Komaroff talks about the name and has regrets for the name it ended up wiht.

As for insurance, I remember years ago that Unum, huge :asshat: LTD insurance carrier was trying to get it so they never had to pay any claims for a DX of CFS in California.

They tried to convert everything to a psych diagnosis which had a two year cap on benefits.
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
In the movie Forgotten Plague, Komaroff talks about the name and has regrets for the name it ended up wiht.

As for insurance, I remember years ago that Unum, huge :asshat: LTD insurance carrier was trying to get it so they never had to pay any claims for a DX of CFS in California.

They tried to convert everything to a psych diagnosis which had a two year cap on benefits.
Somebody - I think it was Unum - had a sophisticated program involving having people shadow people with ME/CFS and FM and videotape them that would either deny benefits or ensure they have a psych diagnosis and therefore limit payments.
 

Who Me?

Well-Known Member
Somebody - I think it was Unum - had a sophisticated program involving having people shadow people with ME/CFS and FM and videotape them that would either deny benefits or ensure they have a psych diagnosis and therefore limit payments.
They would sit outside peoples houses and video tape them looking for ways to deny them. This was well known. If anyone would see a shrink or be on psych meds, they would class them with a psych diagnosis that has a 2 year cap.

Linda Nee has great info about how to deal with them. She cites a case where a woman told them she could do her laundry and carry it upstairs so they denied her.

I also remember a segment on 60 Minutes years ago about Unum. They denied someone with MS benefits. He was an Opthalmic Surgeon.

I have played the game well because I have been on disability since 95 and am only losing them because I am aging out.


https://lindanee.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/unum-authorizations-are-you-aware-of-what-you-are-signing/

But I digress
 

Hip

Well-Known Member
Call me naive but I do not believe there was some conspiracy to name ME/CFS in such a way as to benefit the insurance companies.

Admittedly there seems to be very little information about how the new disease category of chronic fatigue syndrome came about, but I understand that Hillary Johnson, in her book Osler's Web, says the following about the creation of the CFS category:
A small group of politically motivated and/or poorly informed scientists and doctors who were vastly more concerned about cost to insurance companies and the Social Security Administration than about public health. Their deliberate intention – based on the correspondence they exchanged over a period of months – was to obfuscate the nature of the disease by placing it in the realm of the psychiatric rather than the organic. The harm they have caused is surely one of the greatest tragedies in the history of medicine.

Source: Who benefits from 'CFS'

This blog article is also interesting:
In the 1980s, there were a series of cluster outbreaks throughout the United States of a disease that was probably Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) - except that the name and diagnosis was not used in the US. First the outbreaks were labeled Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus (CEBV), because a lot of cases seemed to start with mono, but that theory was soon discarded by NIH's point man on EBV, Stephen Straus. He then began using the phrase "the chronic fatigue syndrome" to identify the outbreaks in internal memos in 1986.

CFS convened a committee in 1988 to rename and define CEBV. There were specialists at the meeting who insisted the outbreaks were really cases of ME, but neither Gary Holmes from CDC, nor Straus from NIH, paid any attention to that. ME is not mentioned in either the body or footnotes of the resulting article, which became known because it gave the first definition for CFS: Holmes (1988).

The name and concept CFS was thus thrown out to the world in 1988. At the time, WHO was on ICD-9 (the 9th revision), but was no longer making changes to ICD-9 because they were getting ready to roll out ICD-10. And ICD-10 was released to the world in 1992.

Since CFS was not in ICD-9, as long as the US continued to use it, they were free to place CFS wherever they wanted. The US uses a modification of ICD-9 called ICD-9-CM (for "clinical modification"). In 1997, the US placed CFS in 780.71, under "Symptoms, Signs, and Ill-Defined Syndromes" in ICD-9-CM. And there it has remained for almost 20 years.
And I thought the following comment posted on this Medscape article (free login required) was very telling:
Peter White fails to mention one important consideration when it comes to the diagnosis given to patients:
CFS brings with it the danger of insurance companies turning down claims from patients.

White was happy to expand upon this when he was discussing the results of his PACE trial with his employers at Swiss Re:

"A final point specific to claims assessment, and a question we’re often asked, is whether CFS would fall within a mental health exclusion, if one applies to a policy. The answer to this lies within the precise exclusion wording. If the policy refers to functional somatic syndromes in addition to mental health, then CFS may fall within the exclusion. If the policy doesn’t refer to functional somatic syndromes as well as mental health then it would be difficult to apply. The point made is that a diagnosis of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or ME (a term often used colloquially instead of CFS) is considered a neurological condition according to the arrangement of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) diagnostic codes whereas CFS can alternatively be defined as neurasthenia which is in the mental health chapter of ICD10." Ref: here.

Some more articles on the CFS disease category psychologizing the illness for insurance purposes are found here:
Updated U.S. Illness Codes Perpetuate Medical Ignorance of ME/CFS
ME/CFS: TERMINOLOGY — Margaret Williams
Who benefits from 'CFS' and 'ME/CFS'?
 
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IrisRV

Well-Known Member
We are getting close to (if not already there) confusing correlation and causation. Just because two things happened at the same time, doesn't mean one causes the other.

That said, I had a significant increase in low-level and some potential high-level exposure to pesticides in the years leading up to ME. Again, could be a coincidence, but I'm willing to toss my experience into the anecdotal evidence pot. :) The impact of pesticides on ME needs to be properly investigated.

As for the stupid name, I suspect that some people at the CDC wanted to make sure it was clear that this is not a serious biomedical illness and put some effort into making the name fit their perception. It doesn't take everyone on a committee to be involved for a few to be able to push their particular agenda.
It didn't have to be malicious. They may have truly believed it's not a big deal or a psychological issue and didn't want to give it a fancy name that misrepresented (in their minds) the impact of the illness. It's not like the idiots who were sent to Lake Tahoe came back with stories of serious illness. :rolleyes:

Nevertheless, it was arrogant, thoughtless, and unkind at best. They certainly didn't investigate it sufficiently before slapping a No Big Deal label on it. Once they had committed themselves to that position, their egotism wouldn't let them back down. I think that's where the problems really began -- in refusing to acknowledge further evidence and rethink their position.
 

Hip

Well-Known Member
We are getting close to (if not already there) confusing correlation and causation. Just because two things happened at the same time, doesn't mean one causes the other.
I think most people know that correlation does not automatically imply causation; and it may indeed be just be a coincidence that the overall rise in pesticide usage occurred at the same time as an apparent rise in ME/CFS incidence.

Although the research linking organophosphate pesticide exposure in Scotland to a fourfold higher prevalence in ME/CFS looks like a smoking gun.
 

IrisRV

Well-Known Member
I think most people know that correlation does not automatically imply causation;
You'd be surprised. ;) I continue to be appalled at the number of doctors and psych researchers who don't understand that basic scientific concept.
Although the research linking organophosphate pesticide exposure in Scotland to a fourfold higher prevalence in ME/CFS looks like a smoking gun.
Yep. It's also looking like at least one of the culprits in GWI, too. Other pesticides are not -- yet -- linked in any substantive way to ME-like illnesses. That doesn't mean they aren't linked, just that we shouldn't leap to any conclusions based on a tenuous correlation. We can speculate all we want. :D

We need research on this topic. Dr Klimas may be doing some as part of her GWI studies that also include PWME.
 

Remy

Administrator
I know this is a bit off topic; please indulge me. :)

I've been feeling awful about applying an external flea and tick liquid to my dogs this week. I just have this terrible feeling that it is toxic to all of us.

I wore gloves when I applied it, but it stays greasy on their fur for days. I know it is rubbing off on everything.

But it's a rock and a hard place because I certainly don't want them to get fleas and ticks with all those health risks. Not to mention having fleas in the house! And Ivey gets sick from the oral medicine that I was giving them. It seems wrong to make her nauseous once a month and lethargic, but the liquid doesn't work as well apparently and washes off when they swim.

Mom says that life is tough and the lesser of two evils is to give her the internal medicine, but I feel really torn. I don't like the idea of pesticide residue all over everything at all either.

My holistic vet is no help either. She says there are no "good" options.
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Admittedly there seems to be very little information about how the new disease category of chronic fatigue syndrome came about, but I understand that Hillary Johnson, in her book Osler's Web, says the following about the creation of the CFS category:



This blog article is also interesting:


And I thought the following comment posted on this Medscape article (free login required) was very telling:



Some more articles on the CFS disease category psychologizing the illness for insurance purposes are found here:
Updated U.S. Illness Codes Perpetuate Medical Ignorance of ME/CFS
ME/CFS: TERMINOLOGY — Margaret Williams
Who benefits from 'CFS' and 'ME/CFS'?
Thanks for the links

I think there's a stronger connection between the insurance companies and the govt figures in the UK. The top docs there seem to be pretty involved there. Hilary would certainly know better than me about the docs in the US and their correspondence. I can't imagine that Komaroff was involved though - he had different reasons.
 

lisaadele

Active Member
I know this is a bit off topic; please indulge me. :)

I've been feeling awful about applying an external flea and tick liquid to my dogs this week. I just have this terrible feeling that it is toxic to all of us.

I wore gloves when I applied it, but it stays greasy on their fur for days. I know it is rubbing off on everything.

But it's a rock and a hard place because I certainly don't want them to get fleas and ticks with all those health risks. Not to mention having fleas in the house! And Ivey gets sick from the oral medicine that I was giving them. It seems wrong to make her nauseous once a month and lethargic, but the liquid doesn't work as well apparently and washes off when they swim.

Mom says that life is tough and the lesser of two evils is to give her the internal medicine, but I feel really torn. I don't like the idea of pesticide residue all over everything at all either.

My holistic vet is no help either. She says there are no "good" options.
I know how you feel. It is a conundrum - I have used the liquid treatment on my dog/cats for years and always hate how toxic it is too. When I have stopped we end up with fleas (and I react to their bites so I'm the first to know there are fleas) and that can sometimes require chemicals to get rid of too...
 

Hip

Well-Known Member
I think there's a stronger connection between the insurance companies and the govt figures in the UK.
These disability insurance companies are international corporates, and so I think they try to lobby governments in multiple countries. On the BBC News website there was an article I read many years ago about how UNUM was trying to influence the UK government policy on disability support. But I never was able to find the article again.

I think in the UK, the disability insurance companies won the jackpot by having the Wessely school create the appearance of a scientific theory purporting to indicate that ME/CFS was psychologically caused. I think Wessely also then had some later involvement with the CDC for subsequent revisions of the CFS concept.

I don't like to dwell on these matters too much though, otherwise it can put you into a negative mood.
 

Veet

Well-Known Member
@Remy I've been dealing w/ the same issues, poisons for my 2 new cats. It started when my oldie was very unwell, and I couldn't bear to poison her further. I'm now using a flea comb and diatomaceous earth of these 2 girls. I'm not worrying about ticks. But that may be different for a dog. I'm linking a page that I found useful, you might find further info re ticks.

http://www.richsoil.com/flea-control.jsp
http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/flea-and-tick-control-zmaz02aszgoe.aspx
 

Remy

Administrator
@Remy I've been dealing w/ the same issues, poisons for my 2 new cats. It started when my oldie was very unwell, and I couldn't bear to poison her further. I'm now using a flea comb and diatomaceous earth of these 2 girls. I'm not worrying about ticks. But that may be different for a dog. I'm linking a page that I found useful, you might find further info re ticks.

http://www.richsoil.com/flea-control.jsp
http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/flea-and-tick-control-zmaz02aszgoe.aspx
Thank you, @Veet!

I wish lufenuron would kill ticks because that seems relatively benign.

We go for walks in the woods almost every day during the nice weather so we have to do something chemical unfortunately. The dogs are 65 lbs each and VERY HAIRY. I honestly cannot imagine the exertion of walking and then coming home for an hour or more of combing. I'd have to give up walks. :(

I can certainly see trying that method with cats though.

We are not doing the topical again though, if I can help it. My whole body was just screaming, "wrong"!!
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Thanks for the links

I think there's a stronger connection between the insurance companies and the govt figures in the UK. The top docs there seem to be pretty involved there. Hilary would certainly know better than me about the docs in the US and their correspondence. I can't imagine that Komaroff was involved though - he had different reasons.
One thing to think about though. At the time of the name creation the CDC estimates of CFS prevalence were really, really low I believe - too low I would think for the insurance companies to get involved.

For those who might think the CDC is in the pocket of the insurance companies - remember that that terrible "Reeves Criteria" raised the prevalence in the US about fourfold I think it was; lots more potential ME/CFS patients for the insurance companies to worry about.
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
These disability insurance companies are international corporates, and so I think they try to lobby governments in multiple countries. On the BBC News website there was an article I read many years ago about how UNUM was trying to influence the UK government policy on disability support. But I never was able to find the article again.

I think in the UK, the disability insurance companies won the jackpot by having the Wessely school create the appearance of a scientific theory purporting to indicate that ME/CFS was psychologically caused. I think Wessely also then had some later involvement with the CDC for subsequent revisions of the CFS concept.

I don't like to dwell on these matters too much though, otherwise it can put you into a negative mood.
:cool:
 

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