According to Statistics Canada, between 2005 and 2010 the rates of people diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Canada increased significantly.
The number of people diagnosed with MCS increased by 31%
The number of people diagnosed with FM increased by 15%
The number of people diagnosed with CFS increased by 24%
As far as I know, they are no longer collecting information about these conditions, so updated prevalence statistics may not be forthcoming, despite these alarming increases and every indication that the amount of people being affected will continue to rise.
That’s 800,500 people who have been diagnosed with MCS/ES in Canada in 2010.
Let’s not forget that receiving a proper diagnosis is still very difficult, as most doctors know very little if anything about it. Additionally, some people don’t seek official diagnosis knowing the current lack of understanding, or are too severely affected to access the health care professionals who could officially diagnose them.
ES-MCS Sensitivities Status Report (see link below)
The report by the Environmental Health Clinic, in Ontario, mentions:
“It has been extremely challenging to assist EHC patients in Ontario to obtain adequate ongoing care in their communities when primary care physicians, specialists, and other local healthcare/homecare professionals have had little training in environmental health.”
The EHC has a virtually perpetual six to eight month waiting list, is unable to offer urgent or ongoing treatment, and generally cannot provide consultations for children or out-of-province residents.
Canada has one paediatric environmental health consulting clinic integrated into a regular multi-function paediatric clinic in Edmonton, Alberta, affiliated with the University of Alberta and a group of Paediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units in the U.S.
The Nova Scotia Environmental Health Centre (NSEHC) is located in Fall River just outside Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Prevalence of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Other Long Term Conditions
(From online Statistics Canada-based prevalence reports, 13/08/2010, compiled by L. Marshall)
Long Term Health Condition Prevalence over age 12 or 15 (CCHS, 2000-2003)
Multiple Sclerosis 0.24%
Breast Cancer 1%
All cancers 2.6%
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity 2.4% (1.4% men, 3.4 % women)
Type 2 Diabetes 3-4%
Heart Disease 5.4% men, 4.6% women
Arthritis/Rheumatism 16% (2/3 women)
Like almost any medical condition, people may be mildly, moderately or severely affected, and those more mildly affected may not present for medical care. Also, it takes time for educational programs for healthcare professionals to be developed after a relatively newly observed illness has been reported, and so diagnoses may be less frequently made and the condition under-reported. Researchers in three U.S. states therefore also asked randomly selected adults if they thought themselves to be “unusually” or “especially” sensitive and if they felt ill on exposure to low-level everyday chemicals. In California and New Mexico, 16% said yes
The prevalence of MCS in children under age 12 has never been studied
The 2005 National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses revealed that 3.6% of all Canadian nurses, predominantly women, experienced chemical sensitivities
For ES-MCS sufferers the ideal of ‘patient-centred care’ is currently in stark contrast to realities within the health care system. Knowledgeable healthcare professionals and support workers are so few as to be virtually inaccessible most of the time. For moderately or severely chemically sensitive persons, physicians’ offices, clinics and hospitals commonly are unsafe places to wait, consult, or undergo procedures because patients can be exposed to many symptom triggers emitted from furnishings, cleaning and laundry products, disinfectants, and personal care products on staff or other patients, making their conditions worse. Fragrance/scent-free hospital, home care and rehabilitation services are very rarely available, and there are no
chemically safe emergency shelters. Consequently, patients with severe chemical sensitivities may avoid seeking care, risking further deterioration and chronicity, thereby being “caught between a rock and a hard place.”
In this time of health professional shortages and increasing demand by an aging population, it is also difficult to get knowledgeable ongoing medical or surgical care for complex multisystem health problems such as ES-MCS, and patients may still be disbelieved and ignored.
The results include poor health outcomes and higher health care costs, both for the patient and for the health care system.
Having MCS alone is bad enough, sadly though, too many people also have FM, and or CFS/ME along with MCS, in addition to other chronic conditions. Accessing health care to treat any of these is extremely difficult when one has MCS/ES.
Frequencies of MCS Co-diagnoses for Canadian Target Population*
– Chronic condition
– % of people with MCS having this additional diagnosis…
– % of target population having this diagnosis…
Other allergies (not food) 61.1 26.6
Other back problems (not arthritis or fibromyalgia) 39.7 18.8
Arthritis/rheumatism 38.5 16.4
Food Allergies 27.3 7.2
Migraine headache 26.3 10.5
Asthma 25.7 8.3
High blood pressure 24.5 14.9
Mood disorder 15.9 5.6
Anxiety Disorder 14.5 4.4
Thyroid condition 13.8 5.6
Bowel disorder 13.1 3.9
Bronchitis 11.4 2.5
Fibromyalgia 10.0 1.4
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 9.9 1.2
Heart disease 9.8 4.7
Cataracts 9.1 4.2
Stomach/Intestinal ulcers 8.9 3.1
Diabetes 6.9 4.9
Glaucoma 3.9 1.5
Effects of stroke 2.5 1.1
Cancer 2.3 1.4
Epilepsy 1.3 0.6
* “Delegitimizing those with ES-MCS, who may be warning us all of the need for toxics reduction, also tends to impede development of practical, precautionary, potentially preventive and cost-saving public health strategies.”