iStock
iStock

Possible Breakthrough for Sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

iStock
iStock

Chronic fatigue syndrome has baffled scientists way before researchers defined the debilitating disorder in 1988. Long derided as the "yuppie flu" because of its high rate of incidence among young white-collar workers, the syndrome causes muscle weakness, extreme fatigue that cannot be improved by bedrest, and impaired concentration. Its cause has never been clear, and many have suggested that CFS is a mental illness

But in recent years, the evidence has been mounting that CFS has a physical cause; to that end, it's now also known as myalgic encephalopathy. Now, a group of Norwegian scientists think they have found that cause—and it seems to be linked to the body's immune system response.

A series of small trials of an autoimmune disorder drug suggest that chronic fatigue symptoms might be caused by antibodies the body produces to fight off infections. The drug, rituximab, used to treat diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, destroys the white blood cells known as B cells. In the latest study, two-thirds of the 29 chronic fatigue patients who took the drug experienced alleviated symptoms. After three years, 11 patients were still in remission.

The researchers say the disorder could be the result of the body’s immune system getting out of whack after an infection. One hypothesis floated by Øystein Fluge, one of the study’s authors, is that antibodies produced to fight an infection might continue attacking the person’s tissues, preventing the blood from fully circulating and providing the body with oxygen. 

Another recent study led by Columbia University supports the idea that CFS patients have significant differences in their immune systems from healthy subjects. This points toward a vital treatment for a little-understood disorder. A larger, better-controlled follow-up to the Norwegian study is now underway. 

[h/t: New Scientist]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Recall Alert: Swiss Rolls And Bread Sold at Walmart and Food Lion Linked to Salmonella
Evan-Amos, Wikimedia Commons // CC 1.0

New items have been added to the list of foods being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. According to Fox Carolina, snack cakes and bread products produced by Flowers Foods, Inc. have been pulled from stores in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The baked goods company, based in Georgia, has reason to believe the whey powder it buys from a third-party supplier is tainted with salmonella. The ingredient is added to its Swiss rolls, which are sold under various brands, as well as its Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread. Popular chains that normally sell Flowers Foods products include Walmart and Food Lion.

The U.S. is in the middle of a salmonella outbreak. In June, Kellogg's recalled Honey Smacks due to contamination and the CDC is still urging consumers to avoid the brand. The cereal has sickened dozens of people since early March. So far, there have been no reported illnesses connected to the potential Flower Foods contamination.

You can find the full list of recalled items below. If you have one of these products in your kitchen, throw it out immediately or return it to the store where you bought it to be reimbursed.

  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • H-E-B Swiss Rolls
  • Food Lion Swiss Rolls
  • Baker's Treat Swiss Rolls
  • Market Square Swiss Rolls
  • Great Value Swiss Rolls
  • Captain John Derst's Old Fashioned Bread

[h/t Fox Carolina]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
97 Percent of Us Are Washing Our Hands All Wrong
iStock
iStock

Most of us know the importance of washing our hands, but we're still pretty clueless when it comes to washing them the right way. As CNN reports, we fall short of washing our hands effectively 97 percent of the time.

That number comes from a new study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that looked at 383 participants in a test-kitchen environment. When they were told to wash their hands, the vast majority of subjects walked away from the sink after less than 20 seconds—the minimum hand-washing time recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of them also failed to dry their hands with a clean towel.

The researchers had participants cooking and handling raw meats. Because they didn't wash their hands properly, volunteers were spreading potentially dangerous germs to spice jars 48 percent of the time, contaminating refrigerator handles 11 percent of the time, and doing the same to salads 5 percent of the time.

People who don't wash their hands the correct way risk spreading harmful microbes to everything they touch, making themselves and those they live with more susceptible to certain infections like gastrointestinal illness and respiratory infections. Luckily, the proper hand-washing protocol isn't that complicated: The biggest change most of us need to make is investing more time.

According to the CDC, you need to rub your hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds to get rid of harmful bacteria. A helpful trick is to sing "Happy Birthday" twice as you wash—once you're finished, you should have passed the 20-second mark. And if your bathroom or kitchen doesn't have a clean towel to dry your hands with, let them air-dry. 

[h/t CNN]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios