Journal of IiME Volume 2 Issue 2 www.investinme.org Family Illnesses Among People with ME/CFS: Blood Versus Non-Blood Relatives (continued) immune system low-level activation, abnormalities in T-cells, reduced natural killer cells activities and IgG1/IgG3 deficiencies (Bates et al., 1995; Buchwald et al., 1992; Jason, Torres-Harding et al., 2007; Patarca-Montero et al., 2000). Findings in neurological studies have suggested that impaired autonomic nervous system functioning may impact the development of ME/CFS (Freeman & Komaroff, 1997; Pagani & Lucini, 1999). Unfortunately, there is a lack of consistency in findings from different studies (Torres-Harding et al., 2005). Family studies of persons with ME/CFS have examined endocrinological, immunological, and neurological associations with ME/CFS. Endicott (1999) assessed the family histories of 45 psychiatric patients diagnosed with ME/CFS in comparison to 90 psychiatric patients without the condition and 45 randomly chosen patients. The results indicated a higher prevalence of cancer, autoimmune disorders, and ME/CFS related conditions among parents of those with ME/CFS and no differences in psychiatric disorder history (Endicott, 1999). In another family history study of persons with ME/CFS, Walsh, Zainal, Middleton, and Paykel (2001) compared 25 persons with ME/CFS to a matched control group of 36 participants who had inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. The findings indicated that persons with ME/CFS were more likely to have a family history of chronic fatigue and ME/CFS than the control group. Endocrine system dysregulations have also been noted in family history of persons with ME/CFS. Torres-Harding, Jason and Turkoglu (2005) examined family medical histories of people with ME/CFS and found that 50 percent of people with ME/CFS had a relative with an endocrine/metabolic illness compared to only 28 percent of the non-ME/CFS group. The illnesses indicated were diabetes/diabetes mellitus, thyroid-related conditions and grave’s disease (Torres-Harding et al., 2005), with diabetes/diabetes mellitus being the most frequently reported illness. As an endocrine/metabolic disorder, diabetes Invest in ME (Charity Nr. 1114035) interferes with the body’s process of digesting food for both growth and energy. The most recent statistics indicate that 8 percent of the U.S. population have been diagnosed with diabetes (American Diabetes Association, 2008). Examining the family history of individuals with ME/CFS may assist in determining the etiology or risk factors associated with ME/CFS. A combination of genetic and environmental factors may be associated with ME/CFS. A study of 124 monozygotic and dizygotic twins suggested that both genetic and environmental components influence the onset of fatigue (Hickie et al., 1999). A particular genetic component was found to predict fatigue and increased immune responsiveness, whereas an environmental component predicted fatigue and decreased immune responsiveness. Most family history studies reviewed above have compared individuals with ME/CFS to a control group without ME/CFS. The current study investigated the family history among blood and non-blood relatives. The occurrence of diabetes, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS among blood and non-blood relatives of persons with ME/CFS was examined. It was hypothesizedthat family history of these illnesses would be higher in blood relatives than non-blood relative. Method Participant Recruitment. Study participants were derived from a larger treatment trial investigating the effectiveness of non-pharmacologic interventions for individuals with ME/CFS (Jason et al., 2007). Participants were recruited from a variety of sources, including physician referrals. Information about the non-pharmacologic treatment trial study was disseminated to medical colleagues through mailings and phone communication. In addition, study announcements for new participants were placed in local newspapers and recruitment offers were made at local (continued on page 6) Page 5/74

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