Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Veterans with Gulf War Illness don't have any more depleted uranium in their bodies than veterans of the same conflict who never got sick, a new study says.
The study, published Thursday in Scientific Reports, is the first to investigate the link between depleted uranium from exploding munitions and Gulf War Illness, a chronic multi-symptom illness afflicting about 25% of those who served in the 1991 Gulf War.
Some sufferers from the syndrome have long suspected they got it from uranium in exploded munitions.
But Robert Haley, M.D., director of the division of epidemiology at University of Texas Southwestern, and Randall Parrish, Ph.D., professor of isotope geology at the University of Portsmouth in England, found no differences in the secretion of uranium isotopic ratios from those meeting the criteria for the illness and from Gulf War veterans in the control group.
"That depleted uranium is not and never was in the bodies of those who are ill at sufficient quantities to cause disease will surprise many, including sufferers who have, for 30 years, suspected depleted uranium may have contributed to their illness," Parrish said in a press release.
The military has used deployed uranium for tank armor and munitions since the 1990s.
The National Academy of Medicine has released numerous Department of Veterans Affairs-supported reports on possible causes of the illness, and researchers have noted that Gulf War veterans were exposed to a long list of hazards not seen in previous conflicts, making it difficult to single out a cause.
Suspected culprits have included physical and psychological stresses of war, pesticide or nerve gas exposure, pyridostigmine bromide pills taken by troops to protect against nerve agents, vaccinations for in-theater infections and toxins and exposure to downwind oil and smoke that spewed for months from hundreds of burning oil wells -- as well as depleted uranium munitions.
Symptoms of GWI are similar to those associated with autonomic nervous system abnormalities and dysfunction of the brain's cholinergic system and include fatigue, fever, night sweats, memory and concentration problems, diarrhea, sexual dysfunction and chronic body pain.