Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Health Problems In Persian Gulf War Veterans Higher Due To Chemical Exposure, Study Shows

Date:
March 13, 2008
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
There is increasing evidence that high rates of illness in Persian Gulf War veterans can be explained, in part, by exposure to certain chemicals, including pesticides and nerve agents.

A study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine shows there is increasing evidence that high rates of illness in Persian Gulf War Veterans can be explained, in part, by exposure to certain chemicals, including pesticides and nerve agents. Veterans from the 1990-91 conflict have a higher rate of chronic, multi-symptom health problems than either non-deployed personnel or those deployed elsewhere. Symptoms routinely reported by these veterans include fatigue, muscle or joint pain, memory problems, trouble sleeping, rash and breathing problems.

"This evidence suggests that exposure to this certain class of chemical may be linked to elevated risk of health problems," said Beatrice Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, whose study will be published in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) the week of March 10.

"Health issues among Gulf War veterans have been a concern for nearly two decades. Now, enough studies have been conducted, and results shared, to be able to say with considerable confidence that there is a link between chemical exposure and chronic, multi-symptom health problems," said Golomb. "Furthermore, the same chemicals affecting Gulf War veterans may be involved in similar cases of unexplained, multi-symptom health problems in the general population."

The study synthesized evidence regarding a class of chemicals known as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEis) and organophosphates (OP), which includes nerve gas chemicals. Some military personnel were exposed to nerve gas (sarin) when demolishing Iraqi munitions. Also, the pesticides used aggressively in Gulf regions to control sand flies and other insects fall in the same category of chemicals. This includes the carbamate pyridostigmine bromide (PB) pills originally given to service members to protect against potential nerve-agent exposure. (Note: As a result of an earlier RAND corporation report by Golomb outlining the risks of using such pills, military policy has been changed.)

The study linked exposure to each of these chemicals with the chronic, multi-symptom health problems in 25 to 33 percent of returning Gulf War veterans.

"There is evidence that genetics have something to do with how a body handles exposure to these chemicals," said Golomb. "Some people are genetically less able to withstand these toxins and evidence shows that these individuals have higher chance of suffering the effects of exposure." Specifically, illness is linked to lower activity of enzymes that detoxify AChEis, due to genetic variants The enzymes known to be involved are paraoxonase (PON) for OPs, including sarin, and butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) for PB.

Among those service members given PB pills as a preventive measure, those with the mutations that reduced their ability to detoxify the pills were at significantly higher risk of illness, according to Golomb.

Previous studies have shown genetic variants of these enzymes are also associated with increased rates of some neurological diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease. Golomb says this may explain the elevated levels of ALS seen in Gulf War veterans.

Some of the chemicals linked to these multi-symptom illnesses continue to be used in agriculture, and at homes and offices for pest control in the United States and around the globe. Studies not related to the Gulf War showed that agricultural workers exposed to organophosphate pesticides had 10 times the number of health symptoms as those not exposed.

"Again, genetic variants that hamper defense against these chemicals were linked to higher risk of health problems. These findings carry important implications for current members of the armed forces as well as the general public, suggesting that exposure to these pesticides in any setting may increase risk for impaired neuropsychological function and poor health" said Golomb.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Diego. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "Health Problems In Persian Gulf War Veterans Higher Due To Chemical Exposure, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080310181550.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2008, March 13). Health Problems In Persian Gulf War Veterans Higher Due To Chemical Exposure, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080310181550.htm
University of California - San Diego. "Health Problems In Persian Gulf War Veterans Higher Due To Chemical Exposure, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080310181550.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) Conjoined twins Emmett and Owen Ezell were separated by doctors in August. Now, nearly nine months later, they're being released from the hospital. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins