Multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome (MCS)--suggestions for an extension of the U.S. MCS-case definition

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2005;208(3):141-51. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2005.01.017.


Purpose: To validate and extend the US case definition for the Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome (MCS) from 1999 by a systematic literature-review.

Data source: MEDLINE-research from 1997 to August 2003, research in the Cochrane-Library in August 2003, earlier reviews since 1997.

Study selection: Headings and abstracts were screened by one reviewer. All references dealing with multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) which covered topics of interest such as symptom-profiles, differential diagnostic procedures, etc. were included in the analysis.

Data extraction and synthesis: Topic-specific data extraction and synthesis was done by one reviewer. Data interpretation was discussed by all other authors.

Results: Out of 1429 references 36 publications proved to be suitable for the review. The results can be summarized as follows: exposure-related symptoms associated with self-reported multiple chemical sensitivities can be divided into non-specific complaints of the central nervous system--CNS (main characteristics) and functional disturbances in other organ systems (optional complaints). There is a significant overlap of MCS, CFS and fibromyalgie. At present no standards for a diagnostic procedure based on the criteria outlined above are existing

Conclusions: MCS should only be diagnosed in patients who are mainly suffering from exposure-related non-specific complaints of the Central nervous system. The suggested diagnostic procedure follows the guidelines for CFS which are extended by diagnostic clarification of functional disturbances in other organ systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity* / complications
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity* / diagnosis
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity* / physiopathology