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Gulf War Illness Strongly Linked to Chemical Exposure
Date:3/10/2008

Review found vets with the syndrome were more exposed to particular compounds

MONDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- A new scientific review finds a strong association between exposure to certain chemicals and the Gulf War illness suffered by many veterans.

The class of chemicals, known as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs), are found in pesticides, nerve agents and in pills given to soldiers to protect against nerve agents. The review, which was conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, looked at 115 papers on the topic.

"Some of this has been stated for a while," said Joy Ray Miller, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy at Texas A&M Health Science Center. "This article pulls it all together. It's definitely something to be aware of for our future veterans and for the military that's out there now. There are so many variants in the article that we can't really say as a matter of fact that [AChEIs cause the symptoms], but I think there are enough coincidences going on that we can have a pretty good understanding that maybe we should do something differently."

Veterans of the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War have a higher rate of "chronic multi-symptom health problems" than either non-deployed military personnel or those deployed in other regions. In fact, 26 percent to 32 percent of personnel deployed to the Persian Gulf during this period have chronic health problems, a range that may actually understate the magnitude of the problem, according to the study, published in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Symptoms of the syndrome include fatigue, mood-cognition problems and musculoskeletal symptoms.

Although the exact causes remain unknown, evidence is mounting to suggest that exposure to organophosphate and carbamate acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs), includin
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