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Workshop Focuses on Shared Etiology of Addiction and Chemical Intolerance

By Colleen Chandler
October 2005

Annette Kirshner
Annette Kirshner, a grant administrator in DERT's Cellular, Organs & Systems Pathobiology Branch, answers questions from panelists. (Photo by Colleen Chandler)

Experts in chemical intolerance and addiction joined forces Sept. 19-20 to compare notes on the possibility that the two conditions share more than NIH funding sources.

NIEHS and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded the workshop, "Addiction and Chemical Intolerance: A Shared Etiology?" held at Sigma Xi in Research Triangle Park. NIEHS Deputy Director Sam Wilson set the stage with the introduction and workshop goals, followed by Ting-Kai Li, director of NIAAA.

Claudia Miller, from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas, chaired the workshop and presented her research on chemical intolerance and addiction.

"Are these, in fact, different sides of the same coin?" she asked fellow panelists.

While the two appear to be polar opposites, when considered in relation to toxicant-induced loss of tolerance, a similarity emerges: both involve a breakdown of innate tolerance and both result in withdrawal symptoms, Miller said.

The explanation, Miller argues, has the potential to explain a variety of medical conditions including some forms of asthma, migraine headaches and depression as well as mystery conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and Gulf War syndrome.

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