Friday, November 12, 2004

'Toxin link' to Gulf War Syndrome

Some 6,000 Gulf veterans have suffered from various complaints. A report out today says Gulf War Syndrome is not stress related and not in the mind. It is actual physical damage caused by the chemicals that troops were exposed to. Here is a copy of the latest BBC report out today:

UK pressure groups have demanded ministers recognise Gulf War Syndrome as a genuine illness after a US report identified a link to toxin exposure.

A report by the Veterans Affairs Department claims thousands of British and US troops may have suffered from nerve gas exposure during the 1991 war.

The illnesses suffered by veterans are not explained by stress, it says.

The UK Ministry of Defence has always said there is not enough evidence to support the syndrome's existence.

The report, by the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, said up to 30% of US Gulf War veterans had been afflicted by a "complex of multiple chronic symptoms over and above expected rates seen in veterans who did not serve in the Gulf War".

It added that research had consistently found wartime stress and psychiatric illness did not explain Gulf War illnesses in the large majority of sick veterans.

It found veterans had developed Lou Gehrig's disease at about twice the rate of veterans who did not serve in the Gulf War.

Symptoms include headaches, memory problems, confusion, dizziness, blurred vision and tremors.

Elizabeth Sigmund, of the Gulf Syndrome Study Group, praised the work done in the US.

She said: "The MoD has ignored all these things. They haven't done the sort of clinical research that has been carried out by scientists in the States.

'Not stress-related'

"What the Americans are saying is that the illness is not stress-related and not in the mind.

"It is actual physical damage caused by the chemicals that troops were exposed to."

Labour peer Lord Morris of Manchester, who helped establish the independent British inquiry into Gulf War illnesses under Lord Lloyd, welcomed the US findings.

He said: "This is a major development in unravelling the truth about the lessons of the still medically unexplained Gulf War illnesses.

"The advisory committee is to be congratulated in its frank exposure of the dangers to which the troops were exposed."
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Here is a copy of a November 04, 2004, report entitled "Gulf War Syndrome Cause Probably Found":

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.

[With thanks to The Command Post]


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