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Carphology by A Fo Ben

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Fatigue study out of control

You may have woken to the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 reporting that another virus had been identified in a large proportion of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome–human gammaretrovirus, XMRV. But you were less likely to have looked at the paper, which compared affected patients with a control group. This study broke just about every rule in observational epidemiology; the control group was not described, the patients were highly selected, not all cases and controls were tested for the virus, the case or control status was known to the laboratory, possible confounding was neither discussed nor allowed for, and we don't know whether the laboratory studies were done in exactly the same way or at about the same time. A perfect example for an introductory course in epidemiology.

Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1179052

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