Gulf War Illness Is Real: Study

Research contradicts previous government denials
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2008 3:55 PM CST
Retired U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. James Fernandez, 54, of Fredericksburg, Va., holds a tray containing some of the prescription medications he uses to overcome his severe pain, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007.   (AP Photo/Bob Martin)
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(Newser) – Gulf War syndrome is real, and "few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time," according to a scientific study commissioned by Congress. Nearly a quarter of the 700,000 troops who served in the first Gulf War suffer from neurological problems related to exposure to chemicals during the conflict, the LA Times reports. The study, released today, contradicts previous government reports, which had denied the connection.

The syndrome is partly the result of exposure to chemical agents released by enemy troops but is more attributable to pyridostigmine bromide—a drug the military gave troops to protect against the effects of nerve gas—and various pesticides used liberally to ward off desert insects. "The tragedy here is that there are no treatments," said the chair of the panel that commissioned the study.
(Read more Gulf War Syndrome stories.)