Report links Gulf War, illness; calls for more study

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Institute of Medicine has released a report, sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, on certain health issues in Gulf War veterans.

gulf
Photo by woody1778a via Flickr

The committee behind the report wrote that insufficient data from immediately before and after deployment made drawing clear conclusions difficult, but called for a commitment to monitoring and caring for what the release called “persistent, unexplained symptoms” in Gulf War veterans. It also said that interaction between genes and the environment was likely a factor in veterans’ “multisymptom illness.”

The key paragraph from the press release (emphasis mine):

Military service in the Persian Gulf War is a cause of post-traumatic stress disorder in some veterans and is also associated with multisymptom illness; gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome; substance abuse, particularly alcoholism; and psychiatric problems such as anxiety disorder, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine, the latest update in a series of reports on the Gulf War and veterans’ health. There is some evidence that service during the conflict is linked to fibromyalgia and chronic widespread pain, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sexual difficulties, and death due to causes such as car accidents in the early years after deployment, but the data are limited, said the committee that wrote the report.

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