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Gulf War research panel finds 1 in 4 veterans suffers from illness caused by toxic exposure
Date:11/17/2008

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Department of Defense reports indicate that about 100,000 U.S. troops were potentially exposed to low-level nerve agents as a result of large-scale U.S. demolitions of Iraqi munitions near Khamisiyah, Iraq in 1991. In 2007, a federally funded study led by White, chair of Environmental Health at the Boston University School of Public Health, found evidence that low-level exposure to nerve gas could have caused lasting brain deficits in Persian Gulf troops. The extent of the changes less brain "white matter" and reduced cognitive function -- corresponded to the extent of the exposure, that study found.

In addition, the Committee said, Gulf War veterans have significantly higher rates of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) than other veterans, and troops who were downwind from the Khamisiyah demolitions have died from brain cancer at twice the rate of other Gulf War veterans.

The report found that historically, federal Gulf War research programs have not been effective in addressing Gulf War illness. While the Committee applauded promising new programs at VA and DOD, it noted that overall federal funding for Gulf War research had declined dramatically in recent years. The panel urged policymakers to devote $60 million annually for such programs.

The Committee further recommended that the VA instruct the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to re-do its previously completed Gulf War and Health reports, saying the IOM's series of reports have been "skewed and limited by a restrictive approach to the scientific tasks mandated by Congress, an approach directed by VA in commissioning the reports."


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Contact: Lisa Chedekel
chedekel@bu.edu
617-414-1401
Boston University
Source:Eurekalert

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