hormone levels and chronic fatigue


Women who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome may be starting the day at a disadvantage. A new study finds that they wake up with lower levels of a hormone that helps people deal with stress. The researchers, writing online in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, said the low levels of the hormone, cortisol, might play a role in the severe fatigue found in many patients with the syndrome.

The findings are based on a comparison of cortisol levels in about 700 volunteers, some with the syndrome and some without, who agreed to take saliva samples when they woke up, a half-hour later and again a half-hour after that.
It has long been believed that cortisol levels play a role in the syndrome, but for this study researchers focused on taking samples from a broad segment of the general population. They also made a point of having the samples taken on a normal workday, said Dr. William C. Reeves of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an author of the study.

The cortisol differences were not found in the men studied. “We were surprised that the effect was limited to women,” Dr. Reeves said in an e-mail message, “and this may help to explain the higher prevalence of C.F.S. in women.”

[ NY Times ]