Claim: Biological ‘proof’ of Gulf War Syndrome identified

Except there is no evidence that the biological condition was caused by Gulf War exposures.

The New York Times reports:

Using magnetic resonance imaging to study the brains of gulf war veterans before and after exercise, the researchers discovered evidence of damage in parts of their brains associated with heart rate and pain. Such damage was not evident in the control group, which included nonveterans and healthy veterans.

Such neurological damage, the researchers theorize, caused the veterans to be more sensitive to pain, to feel easily fatigued and to experience loss of short-term “working memory,” all symptoms associated with gulf war illness.

Their study, published by the online medical journal PLoS One on Friday, does not try to explain the causes of the damage. It also found different patterns of damage in two groups of veterans, indicating that the disease — if it is indeed a single ailment — takes different paths in different people.

But the authors said the findings, along with other recent research, may offer clues in developing treatments and diagnostic tests for the illness, which currently is diagnosed through self-reported symptoms and has no definitive treatment.

Two other studies released by Georgetown this year have also pointed to neurological damage in the brains of veterans reporting symptoms of gulf war illness, including one that showed abnormalities in the nerve cells linking parts of the brain involved in processing feelings of pain and fatigue.

The research makes clear that “gulf war illness is real,” said Rakib U. Rayhan, the principal author of the new study. “There is objective evidence that something is wrong in the brains of these veterans.”

Other experts offered more tempered views, noting that most of the subjects in the Georgetown study were self-selected and that their number was relatively small: 28 veterans with symptoms and 10 participants without symptoms.

Read more at NYTimes.

6 thoughts on “Claim: Biological ‘proof’ of Gulf War Syndrome identified”

  1. My husband served in Desert Storm…..he has Gulf Was Syndrome…..he suffers very real symptoms! The constant pain he is in every single day makes it difficult for him to live a normal life. For ANYONE to try to debunk what these guys are experiencing is just wrong. If you experienced the level of pain and discomfort that my husband does you would be a believer. I watch him decline daily. The VA put him through every test out there, he is disabled by VA standards, yet not by Social Security standards. Instead of trying to figure out if anyone is honestly disabled or not, why don’t you try to figure out how to help the guys that are. Point the finger at the government officials who would rather sit on their collective asses and blame each other. My husband and the guys he served with put their lives on the line and trusted their government to have their back. Instead they were given experimental drugs, shots and exposed to oil field fires, etc. If you don’t believe that this syndrome is real, come spend a day with someone that lives with it daily!

  2. Jose, there are a lot of problems that people develop. Several of the shots given against chemical and biological weapons were experimental, Yes. however, to tie everything into an overarching “gulf war syndorme” is the falacy that does not stand under close examination. It has degenerated into almost an “anything wrong with someone who fought in the Gulf War”. That’s not a diagnosis. That’s finger-pointing.

  3. Why is the government not speaking about the secret shots we received, or the fact that our medical records were ordered to be destroyed. Maybe because soldiers like myself had an immediate reaction to the shots? To say that our ailments are made up is to insult our Duty, Honor, and Service. How many Hanoi janes like you are there?

  4. Uh, if you had Gulf War Syndrome you wouldnt be saying this. Too many people who were there have the same symptoms. It was never debunked, just lied about to veterans who knew better.

  5. Golf War Syndrome has been debunked so many times and in so many ways, yet, like Dracula, it lives on. Mt Geoff’s comment above is absolutely correct and well said.

  6. I was distantly involved in some of the medical evaluation of Gulf War syndrome. The symptoms were widely divergent and most were short on specifics, things like headaches and fatigue and non-refreshing sleep. Now all of these can be real symptoms of real illness and many Gulf War vets turned out to have real illnesses, but none could be tied to service in the war.
    I just saw something about 825,000 veterans of the War on Terror who have filed disability claims. Something’s wrong here, folks. We haven’t had that many individuals in combat or shot at in the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. I don’t know exactly how many individuals have been “in country” but it’s not as many as two million and most of those were not exposed to combat. That’s not to denigrate the service of support troops, I was a support troop myself (though not “in country”). But to say that something like 40% of them have serious service-connected health problems is hard to swallow.

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