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People with chronic fatigue syndrome are exhausted

Blood cells in chronic fatigue syndrome patients are drained of energy, researchers have discovered. 

The study has shed new light on the truth behind the condition, which has prompted uproar among the medical community in recent years.

Skeptics dismiss the extreme tiredness and mental lethargy as merely psychological, but angry patients are adamant it’s triggered by a virus.

The new findings, made by Newcastle University researchers, back up claims that it is a biological problem and not made up in the head.

Scientists hope the findings will allow for the root cause of CFS to be found, and for doctors to move away from treatments that involve psychologists.

The study has shed new light on the truth behind the chronic fatigue syndrome, which has prompted uproar among the medical community in recent years

How was the study carried out? 

For the study, white blood cell samples were taken from 52 patients with CFS, sometimes referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis.

They were compared to a control group of white blood cells from healthy patients, according to the study published in PLOS One.

Both sets were put under tests to see their level of respiration – the process which generates most of their energy supply.

The researchers, which included PhD student and sufferer Cara Tomas, found the CFS cells couldn’t produce as much energy.


The study findings come after angry scientists threw cheap insults at each other regarding the ‘flawed’ results of a landmark £5 million British study on chronic fatigue syndrome.

One medical journal dedicated its entire August edition to ripping apart the ‘unreliable’ PACE trial, which was funded by taxpayers.

In response, three editors at the Journal of Health Psychology, who are all scientists, have resigned. One said the journal displayed ‘unacceptable one-sidedness’.

An upset co-editor of the journal hit back and told him to ‘f*** off’ for his ‘attempted bullying’, leaked emails obtained by The Times show.

He also called him a ‘disgusting old fart neoliberal hypocrite’ – despite once considering him a ‘hero’ and referring to him as a ‘Trotskyite’ in his younger days. 

Output was nearly doubled for cells in the control group, but the CFS cells could only generate an extra 50 per cent. 

‘A big frustration’ 

‘A lot of people dismiss it as a psychological disease, which is a big frustration,’ Ms Tomas told New Scientist.

Some 250,000 people in Britain suffer from the condition, while figures suggest it strikes as many as two million in the US.

It comes with flu-like symptoms, extreme tiredness and mental lethargy which can leave some sufferers bedridden for years.

The condition rose to prominence in the 1980s, and was dubbed ‘yuppie flu’ due to the young professionals it tended to affect. 

Bitter row among the medical community 

A lack of evidence for a clear physical cause encouraged doctors to believe it was a psychological condition. 

But for years infuriated campaigners have insisted it is to do with an infection or a failure of their immune system.

A landmark study in 2011 published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, which has since been disputed, formed the basis of treatment.

The results of the PACE trial sparked the ongoing debate that the controversial condition is merely psychological. 

Treatment for CFS is delivered by psychologists and involves therapy, which has only angered sufferers more by suggesting it is all in their head.