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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

BU Finds Toxic Exposures Caused Illness in Gulf War Veterans

Twenty-five years after 700,000 U.S. troops fought and won the first Gulf War with remarkably low casualties, research “clearly and consistently” shows exposure to pesticides and other toxins caused Gulf War Illness, a complex and debilitating disorder that affects as many as 250,000 of those deployed, according to a new report led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.

In a special issue of the journal Cortex that coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the war, Dr. Roberta White, professor of environmental health at BUSPH, and colleagues from a dozen other institutions comprehensively review studies on Gulf War Illness (GWI), especially those since 2008. They conclude exposure to pesticides and ingestion of 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 research team also cites 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.

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, the review says.

To read more about the study, go to: http://www.bu.edu/sph/2016/01/25/toxic-exposures-caused-illness-in-gulf-war-veterans/