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Toxins Caused Gulf War Illness: Boston University

Toxins Caused Gulf War Illness: Boston University
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By    |   Tuesday, 26 January 2016 02:31 PM

Boston University scientists are reporting the first conclusive scientific evidence that "clearly and consistently" shows that exposure to pesticides and other toxins caused Gulf War Illness, a debilitating disorder that affects some 250,000 of American troops who fought in the battle 25 years ago.

In a special issue of the journal Cortex, researchers from BU and a dozen other institutions that reviewed studies on Gulf War Illness have concluded that exposure to pesticides and pyridostigmine bromide (PB) — prophylactic pills intended to protect troops against the effects of possible nerve gas — are "causally associated with GWI and the neurological dysfunction in Gulf War veterans."

The team also cited multiple studies showing a link between veterans' neurological problems and exposure to the nerve-gas agents sarin and cyclosarin, as well as to oil well fire emissions.

Lead researcher Roberta White, professor of environmental health at Boston University School of Public Health, said these "toxic wounds" resulted in damage to veterans' nervous systems and immune systems, including neuroendocrine and immune dysregulation, autonomic nervous system irregularities, and reduced white and gray matter in veterans' brains.

White and colleagues have been studying the health of troops deployed in the 1991 Gulf War for more than 20 years to determine why so many suffer from fatigue, joint and muscle pain, headaches, concentration and memory problems, gastrointestinal distress, and skin rashes.

"Further research into the mechanisms and etiology of the health problems of (Gulf War) veterans is critical to developing biomarkers of exposure and illness, and preventing similar problems for military personnel in future deployments. This information is also critical for developing new treatments for GWI and related neurological dysfunction," the researchers said.

In 2008, a Congressionally mandated panel directed by White — the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses — concluded Gulf War Illness was a "real" disorder, distinct from stress-related syndromes, and urged research effort into its causes and potential cures.

James Binns, a co-author of the report and former chairman of the Research Advisory Committee, equated the main causes of the syndrome to "friendly fire."

"We did it to ourselves," Binns said. "Pesticides, PB, nerve gas released by destroying Iraqi facilities -- all are cases of friendly fire. That may explain why government and military leaders have been so reluctant to acknowledge what happened, just as they tried to cover up Agent Orange after Vietnam. Certainly, the government should have been facing the problem honestly and doing research from the start to identify diagnostic tests and treatments."

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Scientists are reporting the first conclusive research that 'clearly and consistently' shows that exposure to pesticides and other toxins caused Gulf War Illness, a debilitating disorder that affects some 250,000 of American troops.
gulf, war, illness, syndrome, cause, toxin
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2016-31-26
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 02:31 PM
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