Gulf War syndrome ‘does exist’
Scientists in the US say they have demonstrated the existence of the illness known as “Gulf War Syndrome”
The findings can be seen in a report by the influential Research Advisory Committee on Gulf war veterans’ illness, leaked to the New York Times.
Committee chief scientist Professor Beatrice Golombe said that exposure to certain substances in the Gulf may have altered some troops’ body chemistry.
Thousands of veterans of the 1991 war suffer from unexplained poor health.
Servicemen and women from the US, UK, Canada and France who took part in the operation to drive Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait have reported one or more symptoms, including memory loss, chronic fatigue and dizziness.
Many continue to suffer from chronic and debilitating illnesses more than a decade since the war.
However, scientists had until now been unable to establish their causes.
The report said the troops’ problems were definitely caused by exposure to toxic chemicals rather than stress or psychiatric illness.
Potential sources include Iraqi nerve gas and drugs given to the troops to protect them from chemical weapons.
“Gulf war veterans really are ill at an elevated degree and several studies bring consistent findings that about 25%-30% of those who were deployed are ill,” Professor Golombe told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.