Times: Letters to the Editor, ME needs research, 10 September

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/letters/article4718869.ece

From The Times
September 10, 2008

ME needs research

It is impossible to recover from ME and the Government has not spent a single penny on biomedical research

Sir, I was pleased to read that Anna Hemmings, the canoeist, has recovered from her illness and is now competing again (report, Sept 7 ). However, it is impossible to recover from the serious, sometimes fatal, neurological illness, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, through mental determination and physical exercise. In fact, increasing activity levels can lead to a relapse.

There is overwhelming evidence that ME has a viral, bacterial or parasitic cause and that the heart is usually affected. One quarter of sufferers are severely affected, some spending their lives in darkened rooms unable to talk.

In the 20 years that I have been housebound with severe ME the Government has not spent a single penny on biomedical research into ME. The only treatments available are cognitive behaviour therapy and graded exercise therapy, which, studies have shown, can make some sufferers worse. The situation for UK sufferers is scandalous – no biomedical research or tests, and no effective treatment. A British woman recently chose to take her own life in a Swiss clinic because she could not live with the debilitating illness.

Hilary Patten
Frome, Somerset

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