RADIATION AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF CFIDS/ME CONTINUES TO GATHER MOMENTUM
By Alan Cocchetto, NCF Medical Director © 2015
From Summer 2015 Forum
As I write this essay, the 15th International Congress of Radiation Research is underway in Kyoto, Japan. The symposium’s theme is “Radiation Science Shaping the Future of the Earth and Mankind.” I think to myself how appropriate this really is given the true reality of CFIDS/ME. Given the disaster at Fukushima, this conference looks to be well attended by hundreds of global scientists whose interest and background is in the radiation sciences. The NCF is represented there too by Drs. Mothersill and Seymour.
Some of the presenters/abstracts center around cognitive dysfunction due to radiation effects and I think to myself, how appropriate.
Several years ago I remembered a Forum column, that I had written previously, about cognitive problems in CFIDS/ME. One of the characteristics that I reread included the dramatic loss of I.Q. associated with the disease. In fact, Hillary Johnson’s book, Osler’s Web has numerous comments from patients she had interviewed about this....hmmm....brain fog!
Cognitive difficulties do result from radiation effects. Anyone who searches the medical literature can easily find articles in the archives. More importantly, anyone who has had a family member or a close friend who has undergone radiation therapy for cancer will often comment on their brain problems and their inability to “think” and process thoughts as they once did. Of course, in those who undergo chemotherapy, this can result in the infamous “chemo brain” that patients and their loved ones often comment about.
What this tells us is that we must pay attention to the disease process that is shared and most likely overlaps each condition. Cancer-related fatigue shares major disease mechanisms with CFIDS/ME including cognitive dysfunction. To some physicians, this appears to be a foreign concept but to those with our disease who live this wreckage day after day, this is just one more problem to add to an ever growing list of problems that can overwhelm its victims. It is not a pretty sight. Mild dementia is characteristic of CFIDS/ME. I have known of several patients who ended up in nursing homes due to advanced dementia that led to their deterioration and subsequent death. This is very serious disease territory.
In a recent journal publication, Russian scientists closely examined new workers and how their brain changed when they were employed to transform the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. These scientists used quantitative EEG’s to identify before they began their employment at Chernobyl. These men were then examined again, using the very same tests, after they had worked there for several years. They found that some of these men had, in-fact, a statistically significant decrease in verbal learning that included memorized words. Of particular relevance was the deterioration of short-term verbal memory along with an increased proactive interference effect of verbal information. In other words, the preservation of material degradation under the influence of information which had been previously memorized and tends to interfere was altered. Likewise, the preservation of material degradation under the influence of learning or manipulation with further information which might interfere, decreased. This is important since no clinically relevant neuropsychiatric disorder was identified after the workers had been employed at Chernobyl and, since these workers had been pre-screened via this testing as a prerequisite for their employability, they had to pass all of these qualifying tests before they could go on-site at Chernobyl. Thus, any workers who had a pre-existing neuropsychiatric disorder had been rejected and were not allowed to be employed at the reactor.
Ultimately, scientists identified markers associated with functional brain damage. In addition, the evidence included a significant correlation between the ionizing radiation doses and/or length of work and the development of quantitative EEG abnormalities in the brain. These quantitative EEG abnormalities were most significant in those workers who had high fecal transuranium levels identified via their stool samples. This brain deterioration was identified in 11% of the subjects.
Not only did these scientific findings suggest that workers suffered from dysfunction of the cortical-limbic system, mainly in the dominant (left) hemisphere but there was possible hippocampal impairments after exposure to low-level radiation doses. Thus, these alterations in the brain may underlie the cognitive deficits identified in this study.
In this paper, the authors stated “Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is considered to be a typical biological consequence of radiological damage resulting from the concomitant effects of low or very low IR (ionizing radiation) doses and stress. CFS may be caused by alteration to the fundamental regulatory systems, such as nervous, endocrine and immune systems. Generally CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) cerebral dysfunctions involve the frontotemporal areas of the dominant (left) hemisphere of the brain. Therefore, CFS may be considered to be one of the initial markers of possible development of CSF disorders due to the influence of low IR doses.”
With each new day, medical science continues to link the profound relationship between radiation exposure and the development of CFIDS/ME. Indeed, radiation science is truly shaping the future of this earth and that of mankind. We are confident that someday soon our patient cohort, that has been identified as having radiation exposure and chromosomal damage, will ultimately find targeted therapies that will have a major impact to end this human suffering.
The National CFIDS Foundation * 103 Aletha Rd, Needham Ma 02492 *(781) 449-3535 Fax (781) 449-8606