Toxins linked to Gulf War illnesses

Sept. 19, 2011 at 12:28 PM
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WACO, Texas, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Gulf War veterans suffering illnesses linked to their deployments were exposed to different toxins depending on where they served, a U.S. report says.

Forward-deployed troops show illnesses related to anti-nerve-agents pills they were given while pesticides were toxins most encountered by support personnel in the rear, the report by the Midwest Research Institute showed.

About a quarter of the veterans serving in the 1990 Gulf War have experienced symptoms including headaches, memory and concentration problems, persistent fatigue and mood disturbances, USA Today reported Sunday.

Veterans who served in combat zones took pyridostigmine bromide pills, small doses of a nerve agent intended to allow troops to build up resistance in case of a chemical attack.

Among support troops, symptoms of illness were most common in personnel who used pesticides on their uniforms or skin, the researchers found.

Nerve agents, anti-nerve agents and insecticides are in the same chemical family and affect the body in similar ways, lead study author Lea Steele of Baylor University said.

"Already, the evidence was mounting for these two exposures," she said. "When you pull all the research together, you start to see patterns that are very consistent."

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