Monday, November 23, 2009

Study Confirms Higher Rates of Brain Cancer Among Some Gulf War Veterans

Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

(91outcomes.blogspot.com) - A study published in September has again shown that the rates of brain cancer deaths is significantly elevated among some Gulf War veterans.

The VA study, led by Shannon Barth and Han Kang, showed that veterans in the Khamisiyah cohort exposed following the demolition to low levels of sarin and cyclosarin nerve agents, and possibly mustard gas, were among those with an increased risk of brain cancer.

Gulf War veterans exposed to smoke from burning Kuwaiti oil wells were also at the elevated risk level.

The study, “Neurological mortality among U.S. veterans of the Persian Gulf War: 13-year follow-up,” was published in the September 2009 edition of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Research Findings: Chronic Health Symptoms Caused by Pesticide Exposure, Worse with Greater Exposure

Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

(Washington, DC - November 2, 2009) - Neurological symptoms are caused by exposure to pesticides and are made worse with certain kinds of pesticide exposure and duration of exposure, according to scientific research presented today in Washington, DC by Dr. Freya Kamel, staff scientist with the Chronic Disease Epidemiology Group of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

In the presentation before the Congressionally chartered Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC), entitled, "Chronic health effects from pesticides: results from the Agricultural Health Study," Dr. Kamel noted that scientific findings found early evidence of neurological dysfunction related to pesticide exposure--especially organophosphates--before the appearance of apparent clinical signs normally identified during a physician's neurological examinations.

Exposures during the 1991 Gulf War to high levels of highly concentrated forms of two organophosphate pesticides, DEET and permethrin, in conjunction with exposure to Pyridostigmine Bromide (PB), a nerve agent protective pill, were identified as causes of Gulf War Illness in a 2008 U.S. Government scientific report showing that Gulf War Illness is real.

Groups of neurological symptoms identified in Dr. Kamel's team's research included affect, cognition, autonomic and motor function, and vision.

Affect:

* Anxiety (52%)
* Irritability (37%)
* Depression (27%)


Cognition:

* Memory (24%)
* Concentration (20%)


Sensory:

* Numbness or paresthesia (27%)
* Poor night vision (12%)
* Blurred or double vision (10%)
* Changes in taste or smell (6%)


Motor:

* Twitches (17%)
* Weakness (15%)
* Poor Balance (12%)
* Tremor (11%)
* Difficulty Speaking (4%)


Autonomic:

* Nausea (27%)
* Loss of appetite (18%)
* Excessive sweating (17%)
* Fast heart rate (15%)


Other:

* Headache (68%)
* Fatigue (58)
* Insomnia (43%)
* Dizziness (28%)
* Loss of consciousness (2%)


According to Dr. Kamel, acute, high level pesticide poisoning has long been recognized as having severe acute symptoms and likely long-term issues resulting from those exposures. However, this study was a cross-sectional study that began with 90,000 pesticide workers and their families and looked at chronic effects of long-term, lower-dose exposures to pesticides and had profound results.

The study, based on Phase I data, was restricted to applicators who completed a take-home questionnaire and collected symptom and exposure data at the same time, a potential study weakness. However, the study also examined participants' exposure levels and to different types of varied widely, identified by Dr. Kamel as, "an advantage, because we were comparing those with high level exposures to those with low level exposures."

The results suggested that neurologic symptoms are associated with cumulative exposures--exposures over time that have added up--to moderate levels of organophosphate and organochlorine insecticides and suggested permanent residual damage caused by these exposures. The cumulate lifetime use of insecticides is associated with increased risk of having greater than 10 of the measured symptoms in the prior year.

With regards to functional pesticide groups, negative health outcomes were linked primarily to insecticide and herbicide agents, and less so to fungicides and fumigants. However, there was a strong association with fungicides and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of progressive blindness.

With regards to insecticide chemical groups, organophosphates were heavily linked to negative health outcomes, while organochlorines and carbamates were associated with negative health outcomes in about half the cases. Pyrethroids, the last of the four insecticide chemical groups, was associated with negative health outcomes in about one-fifth to one-fourth of the cases.

DEET and permethrin, two pesticides used commonly at high concentrations by 1991 Gulf War troops, are organophosphates, as is Agent Orange, an herbicide used widely during the Vietnam War and linked to a host of serious, negative health outcomes among veterans of the Vietnam War and the indigenous Vietnamese population.

Parkinson's Disease, a neurodegenerative disease with early symptoms that include tremor, slow movement, and postural instability, along with soft voice and small handwriting, was also associated with pesticide exposures.

Dr. Kamel's research focuses on environmental determinants of neurologic dysfunction and disease, in particular, neurodegenerative disease.

Kamel received a B.A. in mathematics from Brandeis University and a Ph.D. in biological sciences from SUNY-Binghamton. She did research in neuroendocrinology as a postdoctoral fellow at The Rockefeller University and then as an assistant professor at The Rockefeller University and the University of Wisconsin. She received an M.P.H. in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She joined the Epidemiology Branch at NIEHS in 1989, and currently serves as an epidemiologic consultant for the National Toxicology Program, an associate editor of the American Journal of Epidemiology, and a member of the editorial board of Environmental Health Perspectives.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

OPINION: David Winnett on the Health Risks of Modern Warfare


The tools of modern warfare are vastly more effective now than in previous wars. They are more precise and infinitely more lethal, and some pose great risk to those who employ them. Case in point is depleted uranium - or DU.

DU is a byproduct of enriched uranium, a highly radioactive substance. Since 1991, the United States has used DU in the manufacture of protective armor plating for tanks and armored combat vehicles, as well as heavy armor-piercing ammunition. We not only shield our combat vehicles with DU, we also fire DU-coated ammunition at enemy vehicles, with quite deadly effect.

Since the use of DU began, a heated debate has continued over the long-term health risks. Upon impact, DU is vaporized. The resulting microparticulate is distributed throughout very large areas of the battlefield. If ingested, there is a risk of kidney, liver, heart or brain damage. The Department of Defense's own studies have demonstrated genetic, reproductive and neurological damage in rodents exposed to DU. If ingested [or inhaled] , DU can remain in the human body for a lifetime, wreaking havoc on internal organs and the central nervous system.

DU was first used in combat during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Now, thousands of veterans of that war suffer from permanent, life-altering chronic illnesses. Is this mere coincidence? After the war, Veterans Affairs saw a huge increase in disability claims submitted by Gulf War veterans. Yet no one was able to identify a cause. Many veterans were deemed to be experiencing psychosomatic illness, the VA blaming the complaints on post-traumatic stress disorder. Most were told, "It's all in your head."

For 15 years I have lived with intermittent bouts of blurry vision, sore muscles often accompanied by uncontrolled twitching of major muscle groups, hand tremors and frequent bouts of extremely debilitating fatigue. I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, neuro-myalgias and chronic fatigue. I have an unexplained scar on my right kidney and an enlarged liver, yet I am not overweight, have never been a smoker and my alcohol intake has always been moderate.

DU is not the only suspected cause of Gulf War illnesses. Other possibilities include exposures to low levels of sarin gas accidentally released into the atmosphere during the demolition of seized Iraqi ordnance, multiple vaccinations, non-FDA approved anti-nerve agent pills, smoke from burning oil wells and heavy use of pesticides. Regardless of the cause, let's use these experiences to reduce the chances of future battlefield exposures, and to work toward improving the quality of life for those permanently afflicted by battlefield hazards.

In 1994, a law authorized the VA to grant "presumption of service connection" for certain symptoms associated with the Gulf War. Qualifying symptoms for compensation include: fatigue, rashes, muscle pain, joint pain, neurological symptoms, respiratory symptoms, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal symptoms and cardiovascular symptoms. When these symptoms cannot be attributed to a known illness, they are to be considered "undiagnosed illnesses," and presumed to be the result of exposures in the war.  [Editor's Note:  Three "ill-defined"  conditions are also presumptive for Gulf War veterans, including Fibromyalgia (up to 40%), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (up to 100%), and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (up to 30%)].


The law begins, "The Secretary may pay compensation ." The problem lies in the word "may." VA centers across the country are permitted to interpret the law as they see fit. They "may" award compensation, or they may not. The majority of Gulf War-related disability claims are denied. Approval rates also differ from one VA region to another.

Fewer than 4,000 of the 670,000 Americans who served in the Gulf War have been awarded the disability rating prescribed in the law. Yet the VA's own "Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses" reported last year that one in four veterans are sick. Using VA's numbers, that's 167,500 sick veterans. Tens of thousands have been rated with post-traumatic stress disorder, yet less than 4,000 veterans, including myself, have been awarded the "undiagnosed" rating.  [Editor's Note: VA's estimates are between 175,000 and 210,000 (25-34%) of the 696,842 veterans of the 1991 Gulf War have chronic multi-symptom illness (CMI) commonly known as Gulf War Illness or Gulf War Syndrome.  The most current studies show that only about 10 percent of veterans of the 1991 Gulf War have PTSD, an extremely low rate when compared to earlier and later wars.  Data release by VA last week shows that of more than 220,000 claims filed, just over 15,000 Gulf War veterans have been service-connected by VA for one or more unexplained or undiagnosed conditions.]


The ground war lasted 100 hours. The number of post-traumatic stress ratings far exceeds what would be expected for such short duration. Instead of being referred to neurology or the infectious diseases department in the VA, these veterans have been directed to psychiatry. Many more have given up hope that they will ever obtain assistance from the government that sent them to war. Some have taken their own lives.

Far too many have been unjustly denied medical and disability benefits. For that reason alone, the law should be amended. The word "may" should be changed to "shall." Those who served in the Persian Gulf War are heroes, one and all. This disenfranchisement of so many courageous American veterans must end immediately.

Regardless of the cause of Gulf War illnesses, Americans should demand that their elected representatives continue to provide annual funding for Gulf War illness research through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, and to hold the secretary of Veterans Affairs accountable for fairly and consistently administering disability claims submitted by Persian Gulf War veterans.

A free nation has a moral obligation to ensure that its injured or ill veterans are made whole again to the fullest extent possible through a compassionate system of disability compensation and proper medical treatment, no matter the cost.

--David K. Winnett Jr. is a retired Marine Corps captain and the chairman of funding development for the National Gulf War Resource Center (www.NGWRC.org). He lives in Torrance, Calif..

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gulf War, other Veterans Eat Free this Veterans Day at Applebee's

Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

(91outcomes.blogspot.com - November 4, 2009) - Gulf War and all other veterans and currently serving members of the U.S. Armed Forces eat free this Veteran's Day due to a special promotion by the Applebee's restaurant franchise.

Applebee's website includes details of the promotion that is being repeated this year after a reported success in 2008.

The promotion is good only on Vetereran's Day, which this year is on Wednesday, November 11, 2009.

For currently serving military servicemembers need only show their military identification card or a current leave and earnings statement (LES).  For veterans, a retired military identification card, veterans service organization membership card, or even a picture in uniform while serving.  Federal VA health enrollment identification cards should also be accepted.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

VA Announces Creation of a 'Holistic', Internal Gulf War Veterans Task Force


Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

(Washington, DC - November 3, 2009) - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has created a “holistic” internal task force related to meeting the needs of veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, according to VA Chief of Staff John Gingrich, who chairs the task force.

In a public briefing today before the Congressionally chartered Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, Gingrich noted the failings of the VA with regards to Gulf War and other veterans.  “Gulf War veterans’ perceptions of VA is that it is bureaucratic, slow to respond, has uncaring staff, is dysfunctional, has poor databases, and is failing veterans,” said Gingrich, but in announcing the creation of the task force said, “We are trying to get it right.”

According to Gingrich, the goal of the internal VA task force on 1991 Gulf War veterans, which is already up and running, is to, “conduct a comprehensive review of all VA programs and services that serve this cohort of veterans.”

He said the task force’s charge is to challenge all assumptions and identify gaps in services and opportunities to better serve this veteran cohort.   He expects results-oriented recommendations to decisively advance VA’s efforts to address 1991 Gulf War veterans’ needs, with the desired end state being a coherent, comprehensive and facts-based action plan which considers and integrates appropriate viewpoints from stakeholders, subject matter experts, and advisory committees on Gulf War veterans.

The announcement that the task force had been created seemed to echo the comments earlier this year by VA Secretary Eric “Ric” Shinseki , who told the nation’s veterans In a series of speeches before the nation’s veterans service organizations between July and September 2009, “We are asking why, 40 years after agent orange was last used in Vietnam, this secretary is still adjudicating claims for service-connected disabilities related to it.  And why, 20 years after Desert Storm, we are still debating the debilitating effects of whatever causes Gulf War Illness.  Left to our present processes, 20 or 40 years from now, some future secretary could be adjudicating service-connected disabilities from our ongoing conflicts.  We must do better, and we will.”

In a military career spanning 30 years, Gingrich served in a variety of command and staff positions including commander of a U.S. Army Field Artillery Battalion in Operation Desert Storm. 
Appointed in January 200 as Chief of Staff, he works closely with the Secretary and Deputy Secretary in managing day-to-day operations of the federal government’s second-largest Cabinet department, with some 286,000 employees in VA medical centers, clinics, benefits offices and national cemeteries throughout the country. 

TASK FORCE SCOPE

According to the VA, the new 1991 Gulf War veteran task force’s efforts will include:

  • Defining all key areas of review
  • Consulting key experts and relevant stakeholders and reports.
  • Capturing the issues, data, as wells as program and performance info to inform decisions.
  • Looking holistically at issues and opportunities to advocate for the veteran.
  • Identifiying as a priority effect, initiatives that enhance identification and Treatment of this cohort’s undiagnosed and unexplained illnesses.

TASK FORCE ACTION PLAN

The VA's 1991 Gulf War veteran task force action plan has several components, all due January 31, 2010 according to Gingrich, including the following:
 

DATA SHARING:   The task force will prepare a white paper on data sharing between VA and DOD.

OUTREACH:  The task force will prepare a white paper with the goals of leveraging lessons learned to reconnect to this cohort.  The white paper will address the creation of a new VA campaign to conduct outreach to 1991 Gulf War veterans to learn more about the best ways of communicating with them, including what these veterans want to know.  VA will conduct a literature review and other background info about what makes this cohort unique demographically and what sources of information these veterans use to educate themselves on issues of importance to them, and is conducting national calls.

BENEFITS:    To date among the 696,842 veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, VA has processed 250,897 claims, with 220,541 awarded service-connected disability compensation, including  15,181 approved for one or more undiagnosed illnesses.  
  • Benefits Access Goal: expand outreach and education to Gulf War veterans.
  • Benefits Claims Adjudication Goal: Timely presumption of service-connected disability.  The task force will identify how VA will look for higher rates of illnesses among deployed versus non-deployed veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, establish population–based connections between specific military deployment and long-term health effects through prospective studies initiated prior to and immediately post-deployment.    The  current process requires a review of all existing science.  Meanwhile, veterans’ perceptions are that the current process detached from their concerns and experiences, so the goal is to shorten the claims adjudication timeline while still employing appropriate scientific evidence. 
CLINICAL CARE:  Provide holistic care for Gulf War veterans that addresses the whole veteran.  One possibility would be to apply the existing VA post-deployment integrated care model developed and used for veterans of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The model is of a post-deployment health clinic that includes primary care, social work, and mental health.  Additional services include those of the suicide prevention coordinator, pain clinic, compensation and pension, polytrauma, orthopedics, dental, women’s health, and rehabilitative medicine and prosthetics.

CLINICAL TRAINING:  This is a Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses action plan item, which the task force will provide recommendations to enhance.  The review process will include content review, a field clinician focus group survey, development of design and modularization, a restructuring and rewriting of the current clinician guide, testing the new guide, and making the new clinician guide available on VA Intranet in April or May 2010.    

COMMUNICATION & TIMELINESS:  Tracking the health of veteran over time is important for providing timely info about the relationship of past exposures and health.  There is an identified need to establish surveillance studies, which the task force will address in its recommendations.

Monday, November 2, 2009

VA's Cancelled Gulf War Illness Research Was Even More Promising that Previously Known, Early Studies Show


Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

(Washington, DC - November 2, 2009) - Stunning new findings related to 1991 Gulf War Illness chemical exposures and potential treatments were revealed in a presentation today by Dr. Robert Haley, director of the $75 million Gulf War Illness research funding program at the University of Texas-Southwestern in Dallas, Tex. that was discontinued by the federal VA due to a contract dispute. 

Dr. Haley's studies, comprising more than 200 researchers at six universities, had developed an animal model of Gulf War chemical exposures, determined their effects on brain functions, and were making initial strides in unlocking treatments for the brain damage caused by the Gulf War chemical exposures. His research also revealed serious health consequences for one Gulf War chemical previously thought to be safe.


Three Gulf War chemicals were selected for study study in order to determine their effects on brain function, including:

  • Chlorpyrifos (CP), a pesticide highly used in the Gulf War including in flea collars worn by many Gulf War troops to ward away biting sand fleas. 
  • Pyridostigmine Bromide (PB), a pill taken by about 250,000 Gulf War troops to help sustain life after exposure to soman nerve agent, a key chemical warfare agent in the Iraqi chemical warfare arsenal at the time. PB has been implicated in a number of scientific studies as causally linked to the chronic multi-symptom illness, commonly known as Gulf War Illness, which affects between one-fourth and one-third of the 697,000 veterans of the 1991 Gulf War. 
  • DFP, a good surrogate for Sarin, a potent chemical warfare nerve agent released in March 1991 at Khamisiyah, Iraq by U.S. demolitions teams, shortly after the war's conclusion. The U.S. Department of Defense contacted about 100,000 in the mid-1990s to notify them that they had been exposed to low-levels of sarin and cyclosarin nerve agents and possibly mustard gas when a"pl ume" lasting for three days following the detonations drifted over and exposed U.S. Gulf War troops. While the two letters sent to troops by DoD downplayed the risks of the exposures, numerous scientific studies have shown that rates of chronic multi-symptom illness, brain cancer, and other serious health effects are much higher among the Khamisiyah group than in other deployed Gulf War veterans.

Mouse Model

The first phase of the studies was to develop a mouse model of the effects of exposure to Gulf War chemicals on the brains of the laboratory mice. The mouse model study was conducted by providing laboratory mice with repeated low-dose exposures to Gulf War chemicals such that it was followed by the appearance of brain dysfunction lasting at least three months. The goal was to work out what was the exposure "recipe" that cuases delaysd, chronic changes in the laboratory mice. Once determined, the model would then be validated, and treatments would be developed.

According to Dr. Haley's presentation, that work has been successful in several areas.

One of the intermediate goals was to establish the brain penetration of a range of doses of the Gulf War chemicals, and that was accomplished. It was already known that CP and Sarin (DFP) readily crossed into the brain and caused damage. However, one of the study's surprising findings was that about 10 percent of the dose of PB--a drug used currently and for many decades in the treatment of myasthenia gravis, a neurodegenerative condition that results in extreme muscle weakness and failure--crosses into the brain. Until now, it had been believed that PB did not cross the blood-brain barrier. 


ALS 

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, has been shown to have occurred at excessively high rates among Gulf War veterans and at far younger ages than is normally seen. The studies revealed that PB reduces the number of neurons in key areas of the brain, and that the PB and CP Gulf War chemicals were linked to ALS in the mouse models.

The findings suggest that CP exposures led to damage to the mitochondria in the cells, making individuals more susceptible to a highly problematic cycle of oxidative stress that may result in serious or even fatal neurological diseases, including ALS. 

Brain Cancer 

The studies revealed that PB stimulated negative effects in the brain more so than CP or sarin (DFP), and led to the development of a factor that leads to brain cancer.

Brain cancer in Gulf War veterans has been shown to exist at at least twice the rate of non-deployed Gulf War era troops, but there has been no explanation before now for what might be the causative factors.

The studies demonstrated that there is an initial, dramatic neuroinflammatory response in the mice, and that it diminishes over time. However, at the stage at which the studies were terminated by VA, it was unable to be determined what the effects of that final state might be, including whether it might still be capable of producing symptoms. 

Mitochondrial Effects 

Another of the studies was to show the toxic effects of Gulf War chemicals on the brain's neurons, the brain's building blocks. The study revealed early levels of damage, but was terminated by VA before it could reveal whether there was in fact damage to the cells and the powerhouse of the cells, mitochondria. If this damage was taking place, it was intended for the study to determine if the mitochondrial damage could potentially be treated by Coenzyme Q10, a substance produced naturally by the body and critical for the proper functioning of the cells.

"We are now at the point where we could be conducting studies that could help stop the neurological damage in ill Gulf War veterans where it is, or possibly even begin to reverse it," said Dr. Haley. 

What Next? 

"We are now at the point where we could be conducting studies that could help stop the neurological damage in ill Gulf War veterans where it is, or possibly even begin to reverse it," says Dr. Haley.

Yet, VA officials in the new administration do not seem willing to reverse the termination of the contract that funded Dr. Haley and his roughly 200 colleagues engaged on what can only be termed a massive effort aimed at successfully unlocking the chemical causes of, and treatments for Gulf War illness.

"I never believed that PB was part of this," said Dr. Haley. "I always believed it was sarin, sarin, sarin, possibly with the addition of chlorypyrifos or some other organophosphate [pesticide]. However, the evidence is clear and undeniable -- PB is a dangerous chemical."

One ill Gulf War veteran member of the committee, Anthony Hardie of Madison, Wis., stated his personal frustation with the VA's decision to cancel Dr. Haley's contract. "I have heard from Gulf War veterans across the country who are equally angry at the VA's crass decision to cancel your promising research program," he said.  "I hope that people [in the VA] know how wrong this decision was," he said.

Another Gulf War veteran member of the Committee, Marguerite Knox, from Columbia, S. Car., questioned if PB may still be carried currently by U.S. troops in the event of exposure to sarin or other nerve agents.

New Research Findings Link Gulf War Veterans' Neuropsychological Dysfunction with Gulf War Exposures


Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

(Washington, DC - November 2, 2009) - In a presentation today before the Congressionally chartered Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC), Dr. Roberta White, the committee's scientific director, presented scientific research linking Gulf War hazardous exposures and health outcomes in individuals exposed to neurotoxicants.


Neurotoxicants, a class of chemicals that includes pesticides and chemical warfare agents, were common hazardous exposures during the 1991 Gulf War linked to Gulf War veterans' illnesses and described in depth in a 2008 U.S. Government report that found that Gulf War Illness is a real neurological condition affecting between one-fourth and one-third of the 697,000 U.S. veterans of the 1991 Gulf War.

Dr. White, a neuropsychologist and chair of environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health, presented scientific research that linked the Gulf War exposures to neuropsychological dysfunction.

According to Dr. White's research, individuals exposed to neurotoxicants such as the pesticides and low-level chemical warfare agent exposures of those serving in the 1991 Gulf War, "can have abnormal or within normal range [of neuropsychological testing] results but still have critical functional issues in daily life, especially with people who were high functioning [before their Gulf War exposures].


Dr. White noted that that this meant that those exposed had neuropsychological dysfunction, rather than the neuropsychological deficit that most current neuropsychological testing is designed to measure.

The research studies found that the cluster of neuropsychological dysfunction symptoms among Gulf War veterans included:

  • Mood changes/fatigue
  • Motor dysfunction
  • Visual-constructional deficits
  • Visual memory/learning retrieval issues
  • Attention/executive working memory issues
It was noted that language function was generally intact.

"Some also have Parkinsonian symptoms," added Dr. White.  However, they do not respond to dopaminergic replacement, a standard Parkinson's disease treatment, "so this is not [typical] Parkinson's Disease."

One of the veterans in attendance, former U.S. Air Force Major and flight nurse Denise Nichols of Denver, Col., noted that most Gulf War veterans were high functioning before their exposures. 

Anthony Hardie, an ill Gulf War veteran member of the RAC from Madison, Wis. agreed, commenting that, "most Gulf War troops were at least high school graduates, as compared to today's military, where in 2008, only about four in five new enlistees in the U.S. Army were high school graduates."


Hardie also recommended that VA begin using its new Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) compensation criteria for Gulf War veterans with this neuropsychological dysfunction.
 

Several ill Gulf War veterans in attendance agreed that the dysfunction identified by Dr. White's research mirrored their own experiences and those of other ill Gulf War veterans they know.

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Third Congressional Hearing on Gulf War Illness Research Postponed


Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

(Washington, DC - November 2, 2009) - The Congressional hearing on recommendations for future directions of Gulf War veterans' illnesses health research, originally scheduled for this Wednesday, November 4, has been postponed.

The hearing will be rescheduled at a future date.

Two previous hearings in the series have been held by the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which have highlighted significant issues with VA and Department of Defense Gulf War illnesses research conducted to date.



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Canadian Gulf War Veteran Expresses Concern on behalf of Fellow Canadian Gulf War Veterans 'Who Are Also Ill'


Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

(Washington, DC - November 2, 2009) -
Traveling on her own to speak before a federal U.S. committee hearing of the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC) in Washington, DC, Louise Richard, a Canadian Gulf War veteran from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, expressed concern for her fellow Gulf War veterans.

"We're ill too, and we deserve answers, too, but for some reason the Canadian Government has utterly failed us."

Richard stated that she was informed by Canada's Surgeon General that, "there are too few of you to worry about."

Richard expressed gratitude for the RAC's work, and work be U.S. veterans advocates, including Denise Nichols of Denver, Colo.

Study Finds Subtle Declines in Motor Speed, Sustained Attention in Gulf War Veterans

Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

(Washington, DC - November 2, 2009) - In a public presentation today before the federal Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses by Dr. Rosemary Toomey, science has found that Gulf War deployment is associated with subtle declines of motor speed and sustained attention.  The evidence further suggested that the toxicant exposures influence these functions, and that symptoms of depression also influence attention.

Shortly after the end of the 1991 Gulf War, many U.S. Gulf War veterans reported cognitive issues that they believed to be related to their Gulf War service.  The cognitive issues could not be related to physical brain injury or known disease processes.

The study found scientific evidence that 1991 Gulf War toxicant exposures led to impaired motor speed and deficits in sustained attention.

The presentation, entitled, "Neuropsychological functioning in the VA National Health Survey of Gulf War Veterans," included the results of the National Health Survey of Gulf War veterans and their families, which was coordinated through Chicago's Hines VA Medical Center. 

Khamisiyah exposure was also found to be related to decreased motor speed.

It was noted that self-reported exposure variables did not explain the symptoms. 

Toomey is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Harvard Medical School Department Psychiatry, and an active researcher with the Psychology Department at Boston University, the Harvard Institute of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Genetics, and the Boston VA Medical Center Research Service. 

Laser Acupuncture May Help Alleviate Symptoms in Ill Gulf War Veterans, Mayo Clinic Study Suggests


Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

(Washington, DC - November 2, 2009) - In a public presentation today before the Congressionally chartered federal Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, which oversees the federal government's scientific research efforts across the federal government, Dr. Peter Dorsher of the Jacksonville, Fla. Mayo Clinic provided a novel assesment of how fibromyalgia works, and scientific evidence for a potential treatment, laser acupuncture.

His study assumes that the conditions associated with fibromyalgia result from an imbalance or instability of the autonomic nervous system, the body's command center than includes breathing, heartrate, perpiration, digestion, and other "automatic" bodily functiong.  The conditions related to fibromyalgia include migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, insterstitial cystitis, endometriosis, idiopathic urethritis, chronic prostatitis, and temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ).

His findings noted that satisfactory, well-tolerated treatments for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome have been sparse to date.  He noted some similarities between fibromyalgia, a presumptive condition for veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, and Gulf War Illness.

His successful study findings testing laser acupuncture in people with fibromyalgia suggest that this stimulation of the autonomic nervous system offers a potential way to reduce the symptoms and thereby improve the quality of life for veterans with Gulf War Illness as well. 

He also noted that the treatment is pain-free, and essentially risk free, and may result in restoring the autonomic nervous system to its original balance.

One of the Gulf War veterans in the audience supported the concept of acupuncture in relieving some Gulf War Illness neurological symptoms, stating that after her Gulf War service, she had numbness and loss of feeling in her arms and legs that was restored after five months of (non-laser) acupuncture.