A Soldiers Blog

Search Site search web

Friday, October 15, 2004

ContraCostaTimes.com | 10/15/2004 | Panel blames chemicals for gulf war syndrome

Panel blames chemicals for gulf war syndrome

By Scott Shane


WASHINGTON - A federal panel of medical experts studying illnesses among veterans of the war in the Persian Gulf has broken with several earlier studies and concluded that many suffer from neurological damage caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, rejecting past findings that the ailments resulted mostly from wartime stress.

Citing new scientific research on the effects of exposure to low levels of neurotoxins, the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses concludes in its draft report that "a substantial proportion of gulf war veterans are ill with multi-symptom conditions not explained by wartime stress or psychiatric illness."

It says a growing body of research suggests that many veterans' symptoms have a neurological cause and that there is a "probable link" to exposure to neurotoxins.

The report says possible sources include sarin, a nerve gas, from an Iraqi weapons depot blown up by U.S. forces in 1991; a drug, pyridostigmine bromide, given to troops to protect against nerve gas; and pesticides used to protect soldiers in the region.

Dr. Joyce Lashof, the chairwoman of a presidential advisory group that reported in 1996 that there was no causal link between toxic exposure and the veterans' symptoms, said Thursday that she had not seen the new report.

But Lashof said she was open to changing her views if the findings were based on solid new research and not advocacy by veterans' groups.

"We certainly weren't sure that our report was the definitive answer," said Lashof, professor emerita of public health at UC Berkeley. "It was based on the best evidence available at the time."

All the chemicals cited in the new study belong to a group called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, exposure to which can cause a range of symptoms including pain, fatigue, diarrhea and cognitive impairment.

Committee members said there might be minor changes in the report, a copy of which was obtained by the New York Times, but that the basic scientific findings would not change.

The committee says a search for medical treatments tailored to the new findings is "urgently needed" and recommends $60 million in federal funds for new research over the next four years.

It says an estimated 100,000 gulf war veterans, or about one in seven, suffer war-related health problems.

ContraCostaTimes.com | 10/15/2004 | Panel blames chemicals for gulf war syndrome

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!