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Do You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Risk Factors?

Is So, What Can You Do About Them?

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Updated October 01, 2013

More than a million people in the U.S. have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS). That's more than have either multiple sclerosis or lung cancer. It affects people around the world from all racial and ethnic groups as well as all socioeconomic levels. While researchers are still trying to figure out what causes ME/CFS, they have identified some chronic fatigue syndrome risk factors.

Who's At Risk?

While researchers are still trying to figure out what causes ME/CFS, they have identified some chronic fatigue syndrome risk factors.

  • Gender:
    Women are four times more likely than men to be diagnosed with ME/CFS. Researchers don't know why this is, and it's possible that women are more likely to seek treatment. It also may be tied to hormones or other gender-specific differences.
  • Age:
    The onset of ME/CFS is most common in people who are in their 40s or 50s, but it can occur in anyone. The risk is lowest in young children, then increases until you're about 60.
  • Genetics:
    Several members of one family sometimes have ME/CFS, which suggests a possible genetic link. Researchers have not yet identified what could cause this predisposition.
  • Stress:
    People with high levels of stress in their life are more likely to develop ME/CFS.

Lowering Your Risk

You can't do much to mitigate the risk posed by your gender, age or genes. However, you may be able to lower your risk of ME/CFS and improve your life in general by learning how to manage stress and maintaining good health.

Sources:

2006 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Who's at Risk?"

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