TGI Friday! Our weekly round-up of research abstracts, 30 December 2011

December 30, 2011

Our regular weekly roundup of research paper abstracts that have not already appeared on the MEA website.

Covered this week are studies on the use of complementary and alternative medicine in ME/CFS; long term sickness from work in people with ME/CFS, and the possible role of XMRV in prostate cancer.

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Oct 7;11:87.

Complementary and alternative medicine for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: a systematic review.

Alraek T, Lee MS, Choi TY, Cao H, Liu J.
National Research Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, University of Tromsø, Norway.



Throughout the world, patients with chronic diseases/illnesses use complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). The use of CAM is also substantial among patients with diseases/illnesses of unknown aetiology. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also termed myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is no exception. Hence, a systematic review of randomised controlled trials of CAM treatments in patients with CFS/ME was undertaken to summarise the existing evidence from RCTs of CAM treatments in this patient population.


Seventeen data sources were searched up to 13th August 2011. All randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of any type of CAM therapy used for treating CFS were included, with the exception of acupuncture and complex herbal medicines; studies were included regardless of blinding. Controlled clinical trials, uncontrolled observational studies, and case studies were excluded.


A total of 26 RCTs, which included 3,273 participants, met our inclusion criteria. The CAM therapy from the RCTs included the following: mind-body medicine, distant healing, massage, tuina and tai chi, homeopathy, ginseng, and dietary supplementation. Studies of qigong, massage and tuina were demonstrated to have positive effects, whereas distant healing failed to do so. Compared with placebo, homeopathy also had insufficient evidence of symptom improvement in CFS. Seventeen studies tested supplements for CFS. Most of the supplements failed to show beneficial effects for CFS, with the exception of NADH and magnesium.


The results of our systematic review provide limited evidence for the effectiveness of CAM therapy in relieving symptoms of CFS. However, we are not able to draw firm conclusions concerning CAM therapy for CFS due to the limited number of RCTs for each therapy, the small sample size of each study and the high risk of bias in these trials. Further rigorous RCTs that focus on promising CAM therapies are warranted.

Br J Psychiatry. 2011 Nov;199:430-1. Epub 2011 Sep 8.Br J Psychiatry. 2011 Nov;199:430-1. Epub 2011 Sep 8.

Long-term sickness absence among patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Knudsen AK, Henderson M, Harvey SB, Chalder T.
Research Section of Mental Health Epidemiology, Department of Health Promotion and Development, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Christiesgt. 13, N-5020 Bergen, Norway.


Chronic fatigue syndrome is associated with high levels of occupational disability. Consecutive out-patients at a chronic fatigue syndrome treatment service were studied for associations between occupational status, symptom severity and cognitive and behavioural responses to symptoms. All patients had high symptom levels; however, those on long-term sickness absence had significantly more physical fatigue (β = 0.098, P

Asian J Androl.
2011 Sep;13(5):698-701. doi: 10.1038/aja.2011.32. Epub 2011 Jul 18.

Is XMRV a causal virus for prostate cancer?

Zhang ZZ, Guo BF, Feng Z, Zhang L, Zhao XJ.
Department of Epidemiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48224, USA.


The potential association between xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related gammaretrovirus (XMRV) and prostate cancer (PCa) has been documented since 2006. It is important for furthering our understanding of the biological mechanisms of PCa to ascertain whether this association is causal. To summarize the available information on the epidemiological and laboratory findings of the association, we conducted a literature search of the PubMed electronic database (from March 2006 to February 2011) to identify relevant published studies that examined the association between XMRV and PCa. Although several studies showed the positive association between XMRV and PCa, more recent studies did not support this conclusion. The positive findings might be due to contamination of human samples. Further studies are needed to clarify this association.

3 thoughts on “TGI Friday! Our weekly round-up of research abstracts, 30 December 2011”

  1. I have to admire the academic brilliance of psychologists:

    “All patients had high symptom levels; however, those on long-term sickness absence had significantly more physical fatigue”

    What astonishing insight!

    It couldn’t possibly be the case that those with the highest levels of ‘fatigue’ (i.e. exhaustion) were experiencing “long-term sickness absence” – could it?

    Never let the facts spoil a good study.

  2. Soloman that was exactly my response.

    did they get paid to say the equivalent of “those who took the most anelgesics had the highest levels of pain”

    I dont know why i am amazed at this. Talk about taking all information and using it to appear to prove one’s own predjudices.

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