No extra disease seen in chemical-exposed Gulf War veterans

Another study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that exposure to low levels of chemical warfare agents during the Gulf War has not led to increased illness among veterans of that conflict.

While psychological and physical ailments have been found in higher rates among military personnel deployed to the Gulf War arena, there is no difference between veterans who were exposed to low levels of chemical weapons and those not exposed, says Linda A. McCauley, Ph.D., of Oregon Health and Science University.

"Our findings suggest that veterans who were possibly exposed to very low levels of chemical warfare agents do not differ from other deployed veterans on any health indicator, including self-reported medical diagnoses, hospitalization or disability," the researchers write in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study included data collected through telephone interviews with 1,779 military personnel, 653 who had served in the Khamisiyah area (where chemical exposure is believed to have occurred), 610 deployed during the Gulf War but not in an area with chemical exposure and 516 not deployed during the conflict. All those surveyed lived Oregon, Washington, California, Georgia and North Carolina at the time of the interview.

Respondents who had been deployed to the region were more likely than non-deployed personnel to have high blood pressure, heart disease, a slipped disk or a pinched nerve. They were also more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder and be hospitalized for depression. The deployed veterans were much more likely to report being in fair to poor health or say that they had moderate to severe impairment compared with their non-deployed counterparts, says McCauley.

There was also a trend for deployed subjects to report more cases of cancer, although this number did not reach statistical significance.

"Our study, along with other

Contact: Jim Newman
Center for the Advancement of Health

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