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Research Shows Controversial Illness is Real and Treatable

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 Research News J E 4
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CHARLESTON, S.C., July 27 Today, Policyholders of America (POA) released a consensus statement written by treating physicians and researchers in the field on the mechanism and treatment of illness found in people sickened by exposure to water-damaged buildings. This illness has been the subject of heated debate that has resulted in harsh allegations being lobbed at patients by experts hired by industry to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the illness. Today however, so-called "Sick Building Syndrome" is now unveiled to be very real; it's a chronic inflammatory illness that is easily identified with available lab testing and treatable using FDA-approved medications. The research paper is the first in the field written by physicians with experience treating the illness. Thorough and rigorous, the paper references governmental agency opinions, current published literature and an extensive review of patient data that has made this subject a political and legal hot potato obstructing patient care.

Nearly six months ago, a distinguished and credentialed panel of medical doctors and researchers, all from outside of POA's membership, were assembled and charged with developing a consensus statement on the diagnosis and treatment of a growing public health problem across America: illness acquired from water-damaged buildings. The consensus statement was then peer-reviewed by other medical doctors and researchers. The research paper is being released to help physicians and their patients understand the mechanisms, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment protocols available for sickened patients.

After reviewing hundreds of peer reviewed studies, analyzing hard data from research conducted on thousands of patients, and incorporating published results of treatment of thousands of patients, the authors embarked on this massive assignment with eyes wide open -- knowing that if the resulting research did not lessen liability of the powerful stakeholders involved, industry would likely attempt to discredit the findings.

With the research now concluded, the mysterious illness now has a name: Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or "CIRS", and when the cause of the illness can be directly linked to a water-damaged building, or ("WDB"), it is called "CIRS-WDB".

Says Co-Author, Ritchie Shoemaker, MD, of Pocomoke, Maryland, "This statement builds consensus by debunking false ideas about illness from water-damaged buildings and establishes the basis by which practicing physicians can assess the complex illnesses these patients experience. We don't have to guess what might be wrong when we have the labs to prove what is abnormal. Patients don't have to suffer any longer after being given incorrect diagnoses such as allergy, stress or depression."

Co-authors included Laura Mark MD from Williamsburg, Virginia; Scott McMahon MD from Roswell, New Mexico; Jack Thrasher PhD of Oakland, California and Carl Grimes HHS, CIEC, President of the Indoor Air Quality Association, from Denver, Colorado.

The 161-page research paper can be found, in its entirety, at: http://www.policyholdersofamerica.org/doc/CIRS_PEER_REVIEWED_PAPER.pdf

A layperson's summary of the research paper follows:

Melinda Ballard, POA's president said, "About 25% of our members have experienced health effects after exposure to toxigenic mold and other organisms in their homes and of those, the vast majority put on the treatment protocol outlined in this paper have reported back to us that their symptoms have either subsided or vanished altogether. While our experience with these members is purely anecdotal, this research paper is not; the findings are irrefutable. Most importantly, the rigorous science in the paper offers hope to so many who are in desperate need of an effective and inexpensive treatment.

POA is a nonprofit educational organization that, at no charge, helps policyholders receive adequate payment when a property insurance claim is filed. Since it was founded in 2001, more than 2.5 million people have joined, an unfortunate reflection on the manner in which claims are often handled by insurance companies. Its web address is: www.policyholdersofamerica.org. POA is a member of ACHEMMIC (the Action Committee on the Health Effects of Mold, Microbes and Indoor Contaminants), a group of scientists, researchers, physicians, indoor air quality experts, environmental engineers, industrial hygienists, structural engineers, teachers and advocates working to advance the understanding of the health effects of mold, microbes and indoor contaminants. ACHEMMIC's website is www.achemmic.com.

-- CIRS-WDB is a multisystem, multi-symptom illness acquired following exposure to the interior environment of WDB. It exists as a recognizable syndrome that is identifiable and treatable; -- CIRS-WDB is identified as immunologic in origin, with differential inflammatory responses seen according to (i) genetic susceptibility and (ii) unique aspects of host innate immune responses. -- CIRS-WDB consistently involves loss of normal control of inflammation and the resulting "inflammation gone wild." -- Treatment of human illness that is acquired following exposure to the interior environment of WDB involves a series of steps, each correcting the physiologic problems one by one. -- CIRS-WDB can be readily identified by current methods of clinical diagnoses. This process of diagnosis is supported by (i) identification of unique subsets ("clusters") of symptoms found in epidemiologic cohorts of affected patients; (ii) identification of unique groupings of biomarkers, such as genetic markers, neuropeptides, inflammatory markers, and autoimmune findings. -- Patients with CIRS-WDB are often given incorrect diagnoses such as depression, stress, allergy, fibromyalgia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and somatization. Those conditions, when actually present, will not improve with therapies employed in CIRS-WDB. -- CIRS-WDB is acquired primarily from inhalation of microbial products that are contaminants found in the complex mixture of WDB. -- Re-exposure of previously affected patients will bring about immunological host responses that are enhanced in their rapidity of onset and magnitude, such that these patients are "sicker, quicker."

SOURCE Policyholders of America
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