ATLANTA, GEORGIA. Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by an overwhelming fatigue (lasting 6 months or longer) that is not alleviated by rest and interferes substantially with work, education, social or personal activities. Chronic fatigue syndrome was only recognized as a valid medical diagnosis in 1994 and estimates of its prevalence vary from 2.3 to 600 per 100,000 persons.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now report a prevalence of 235 per 100,000
persons in a typical US population (Wichita, Kansas). The prevalence was found to be considerably higher
among women (373 per 100,000) than among men (83 per 100,000). The prevalence of 373 per 100,000
among women compares to about 1000 per 100,000 for breast cancer and 100 per 100,000 for cervical
cancer. Its prevalence peaked between the ages of 50 and 59 years. The incidence (new cases diagnosed
in a year) of chronic fatigue syndrome was 180 per 100,000 persons. The researchers conclude that
chronic fatigue syndrome constitutes a major public health problem.