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Gulf War Syndrome Cause Probably Found

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The New Scientist is reporting that after extensive studies by researchers at the Veterans Administration, the cause of Gulf War Syndrome has been possibly traced to exposure to Sarin gas.

According to leaks of a report, which is due to be released next week by the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, "a substantial proportion of Gulf war veterans are ill with multisystem conditions not explained by wartime stress or psychiatric illness".

Some 30% of Gulf veterans suffer from various combinations of fatigue, muscle and joint pains, headache, and gut and cognitive problems – over and above non-Gulf veterans, the report says.

It blames damage caused by nerve gas and its antidotes, and organophosphate insecticides (OPs), which all block the enzyme that normally destroys acetylcholine, an important neural signalling chemical.


Haley’s work has allowed precisely that exploration. Syndrome 2, the worst of the three, correlates strongly with exposure to OPs and suspected exposure to the nerve gas sarin.

Furthermore, Haley’s team and two other groups have independently found specific neural damage that could explain some of the veterans’ symptoms. These veterans also had lower levels of the variant of an enzyme, paraoxonase, which breaks down sarin-like compounds.

The nerve gas link is crucial to the change of heart in the US. British and US authorities have denied there was any damage to troops as no soldiers showed the classic symptoms of acute exposure. But it now appears that very small, repeated exposure can also harm.

Experiments on animals have shown that exposure to doses of sarin too low to cause observable immediate effects causes delayed, long-term nerve and brain damage similar to that seen in veterans.

If true this would allow thousands of those exposed to claim pensions from the military and receive medical care. I'm not worried about the money, I just hope that we take care of our soldiers that were exposed to toxins while in a military operation.

Found via Captains Quarters

Crossposted to The Command Post

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Posted by Digger on November 4, 2004 04:22 AM (Permalink)

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