More and more people are becoming sensitive to perfumes, cleaning products and chemicals found in everyday products. Food intolerance is widespread and some people are becoming sensitive to mobile phone and Wi-Fi frequencies.
MCS-Aware is the only UK registered charity dedicated to Environmental Illness and providing information and support to those suffering from chemical, food and electro-sensitivities (EHS).
MCS-Aware aims to promote awareness of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), a chronic, physical illness affecting people of all ages and backgrounds, causing sufferers to have allergic-type (metabolic, non IgE) reactions to very low levels of chemicals in everyday products, foods, medicines, and electromagnetic / microwave radiation.
MCS Aware is run by a small team. The charityʼs website hosts a forum of users who provide answers to questions and support, and the charity publishes regular e-newsletters and the MCS Aware Magazine to provide further news and advice. Information is available worldwide by post or email. MCS-Aware can put journalists in touch with sufferers to tell their story.
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The sense of isolation can feel overwhelming, but actually there are thousands of us trying to live with multiple sensitivities. It is an unfortunate irony that those worst affected find their illness prevents them from accessing the information they need to facilitate recovery.
Most hypersensitivity and many chronic degenerative diseases if diagnosed early can be eliminated if the environmental triggers are removed or neutralized.
Many of the people with chemical sensitivities I see in my clinics, often despair for their history and observations to be “believed” by the medical profession without those “psychological” labels; they hope to find an “antidote” for their symptoms, which profoundly affect their work and their family and social life. In MCS-Aware they find a platform which serves to share their views, to receive and offer practical tips and to be encouraged that there is life, in spite of the MCS. This charity is an invaluable resource centre for the public and health professionals, which has effectively increased public awareness and is active to open opportunities for a better recognition and management of this condition.
The Medical Evidence Discussion
There has been much discussion about the medical evidence for chemical and electro-sensitivities being chronic physical illnesses. Researchers with little understanding of the condition have added to the confusion with projects that do not take into account the basic issues. This is further hampered by a lack of a case definition for the illness.
There are several theories as to how these low level exposures are poisoning people, and research into detoxification enzymes found in veterans suffering from Gulf War Syndrome have provided some clues into how the body’s inability to process toxics may be playing a critical role in the initial sensitization process as well as other long-term health problems.
Chemical sensitivity was once thought to be an immune system dysfunction or related to allergies. The latest research strongly suggests that chemical sensitivity is most probably some combination of central nervous system and blood-brain barrier damage, low-level porphyrin abnormalities, and detoxification enzyme deficiencies.
Chemical sensitivity is more often than not characterized by real, verifiable damage to the body, though the implications of these anomalies are poorly understood and need research. MCS is also usually accompanied by other diagnosable types of chemically-induced injuries. ‘Allergic’ reactions are usually metabolic rather than IgE. Dr Martin Pall offers a possible explanation for these conditions with the Nitric Oxide Cycle.
Professor William Rea has produced consistent research demonstrating that these illnesses are have adverse, reproducible symptoms. His research differs from others as his EHCD facility in Dallas has an environmental unit where sufferers can de-adapt before testing. Testing proceedures are not carried out until previous reactions have abated. The number of studies demonstrating that MCS and EHS are physical illnesses now outweigh those that claim these conditions are ‘all in the mind’.
Caress SM & AC Steinemann (Sep 2003)
A review of a two-phase population study of multiple chemical sensitivities
Environmental Health Perspectives, 111(12):1490-7 [View on PubMed]
A significant percentage (27.5%) reported that their chemical hypersensitivity was initiated by an exposure to pesticides, whereas an equal percentage (27.5%) attributed it to solvents. Only 1.4% had a history of prior emotional problems, but 37.7% developed these problems after the physical symptoms emerged. This suggests that MCS has a physiologic and not a psychologic etiology.
Levallois P et al, (Aug 2002)
Study of self-reported hypersensitivity to electromagnetic fields in California
Environ Health Perspect. 110 Suppl 4:619-23 [View on PubMed]
We report the results of a telephone survey among a sample of 2,072 Californians. Being “allergic or very sensitive” to being near electrical devices was reported by 68 subjects, resulting in an adjusted prevalence of 3.2% (95% confidence interval = 2.8, 3.7). The perception of risk of exposure to EMFs through the use of hair dryers (vs. exposure to power and distribution lines) was the factor the most associated with self-reporting about hypersensitivity to EMFs. However, risk perception was not sufficient to explain the characteristics of people reporting this disorder.
Psychiatry: An Evidence Based Text, Chapter on MCS
Professor Malcolm Hooper. Annotated by Gillian McCarthy BSc MBIAC Scientific advisor for MCS-Aware.
This document lists citations for peer-reviewed journal articles that support a physiological basis for MCS: Research on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) Compiled by Professor Anne C. Steinemann and Amy L. Davis, University of Washington Seattle, WA 98195-2700.