For educational purposes only.
News Coverage of Pentagon Gulf War
of MRS Brain Scan Findings of
* Brain Stem and Basil Ganglia *
Brain Damage from Neurotoxic Chemicals,
Organophosphate Nerve Gas, and Pesticides
December 1, 1999
|Gulf War, Brain Damage Linked|
|ABC Columnist Nicholas
December 8, 1999
|Step Up and Be Healed!
Defending Disparaged Diseases
November 30, 1999
|U.S. Study Finds
in Gulf War Vets
November 30, 1999
|Gulf War Veterans Suffered
after Chemical Exposure, Study Says
Chat with Dr. Fleckenstein
November 30, 1999
New Research On Gulf War Syndrome
An ABC Chat Forum with Researcher
Dr. James Fleckenstein
|National Gulf War
November 30, 1999
|Gulf War Illnesses `Real'
Pentagon -- Brain scans of some veterans
show damage, chemical exposure
February 2, 2000
|New Report Bashes Government
on Gulf War Syndrome
and CNN Coverage
June 16, 1999
Implicated in Gulf War Syndrome
April 7, 2000
|Gulf Vet Study Finds Brain Damage
Similar to Tokyo Nerve Gas Victims
November 27, 2000
|Gulf War Syndrome Symptoms Linked
to Damage to Different Parts
of the Brain
Environmental News Service
January 15, 2001
both Organophosphates and Carbamates,
Linked to Gulf War Illness
* Associated Press *
Gulf War, Brain Damage Linked
December 1, 1999
By BRENDA C. COLEMAN, AP Medical Writer
CHICAGO (AP) Brain scans of soldiers who believe they suffer from Gulf War illness suggest they have brain damage, possibly from chemicals they were exposed to during the conflict, researchers reported Tuesday.
The researchers said veterans who report symptoms of the illness had lower levels of a certain brain chemical than healthy veterans of the 1991 conflict.
``This is the first time ever we have proof of brain damage in sick Gulf War veterans,'' said the lead researcher, Dr. James L. Fleckenstein, professor of radiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
``They can be believed -- they're not malingering, they're not depressed, they're not stressed. There's a hope for treatment and there's hope for being able to monitor the progress of the disease.''
A Pentagon spokesman, Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, said he looked forward to examining the research. ``I hope he's right'' that chemical exposure is the answer, Quigley said. ``We need to take a look at it.''
The researchers reported that magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which measures body chemistry, revealed that veterans who believe they have the illness have lower-than-normal levels of a chemical, N-acetyl-aspartate, in the brain stem and basal ganglia.
That suggests a loss of neurons in those areas, said the researchers, who presented the findings at the 85th annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
The brain stem controls some of the body's reflexes, and the basal ganglia are switching stations for nerve impulses controlling movement, memory and emotion. The basal ganglia, for example, are where the malfunctioning occurs that causes Parkinson's disease.
In the study, brain scans of 22 sick veterans revealed levels of N-acetyl-aspartate 10 percent to 25 percent lower than those in 18 healthy veterans, Fleckenstein said. The finding held up in an additional six sick Gulf War veterans drawn from a different part of the military, he said.
The study was blinded, meaning radiologists interpreting the results did not know which patients were complaining of symptoms and which were healthy.
Researchers believe that soldiers who became ill were those who had a genetic vulnerability to certain chemicals that they were exposed to during the war, including [organophosphate] nerve gas [closely related to organophosphate pesticides], the insecticide DEET, pet flea collars some wore to repel pests and the drug pyridostigmine bromide. PB was administered to as many as 250,000 soldiers in the belief it would protect them from the toxic effects of nerve gas.
When toxins of the same type are given to animals, studies show, similar abnormalities in the same regions of the brain resulted, Fleckenstein said.
Last month, the Pentagon raised the possibility for the first time of a connection between Gulf War illness and PB. It said more scientific study is needed before it can either confirm a connection or rule it out.
The new findings did not surprise Charles Townsend, 49, one of the study's subjects.
He served as an airborne sergeant with the Army's 50th Signal Battalion during the war and now can reel off a list of his symptoms, including ulcers in his sinus cavities and colon, swollen lymph nodes, rashes, severe headaches and bleeding gums.
``You forget where you're going, you don't remember a word you want to speak as you're preparing to speak it. It interrupts the train of thought,'' he said.
Townsend said he has been called a liar by Veterans Administration doctors, but he is convinced his problems stem from exposure to chemicals during the war.
Townsend, who is on full disability because of his illness, said he is unsure of what practical effect the study will have.
``My problem is the politics of it,'' he said. ``When is this going to filter down to a single doctor in the Dallas V.A. [Veterans Administration]?''
Fleckenstein said treatments are being explored by his colleague Dr. Robert W. Haley, chief of epidemiology at UT Southwestern. Haley helped define Gulf War syndromes and identify toxic exposures associated with the likelihood of having them. He also revealed enzyme abnormalities that may be part of a biological basis for the disease.
Copyright 1999 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Original Source: http://wire.ap.org/
We couldn't resist
Our columnist has the perfect
prescription for the sin of
Step up, sinners! Enter the tent of Life. Be brave, not afraid. The Second Opinion Premillennium Medical and Scientific Confessional is about to help you save your souls.
Step up, all ye doctors who have advised patients that their problems are all in their "minds." Heres your opportunity to come clean.
Repeat after me: "I had no idea what I was talking about." See, that wasnt so bad. Feels good to let it out, doesnt it?
Had you substituted the word "brain" for "mind," you at least would have identified a specific location in the body. But I understand -- suggesting brain involvement might have complicated matters somewhat, and your patients might have become confused. On the basis of modern body atlases, we can at least speculate that the brain is connected to the body in one form or another.
Syndrome? What Syndrome?
Step up, all ye doctors who have sneered at the numerous and varied complaints of war veterans, including those who went to the Persian Gulf. A bunch of malingerers and cheats, right?
I, being a gentle and caring person, understand that because you couldnt figure out what was wrong with them on the basis of available tests and medical practices, you felt foolish, maybe even afraid of your lack of knowledge. So clean out those terrible thoughts and repeat after me: "I had no idea what I was talking about."
Also proclaim the following with enthusiasm: "I have nothing to be ashamed of, if I admit to my patients that Im in the dark about their symptoms. I wont be an arrogant (fill in the blank) any longer. I promise."
Perhaps you noticed last week that some researchers investigating Gulf War Syndrome have taken a very small first step to show actual changes in the brains of soldiers complaining of aches -- particularly neurological symptoms -- and pain. Its not a breakthrough by any means; just a small offering that might make you feel more at ease with the idea that your "knowledge" is extremely limited, and that much more research is required before you blow off a generation of war veterans.
You might also consider that many men and women who fought in one war or another returned home badly traumatized by the blood and torture they witnessed. Its really true they really did watch people, even friends, get butchered or blown apart.
The resulting condition is often referred to as Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Research at many major medical institutions shows it involves, yes, the brain, and the way this organ of behavior stores memories.
This is not a mind thing. So, if you ever told a war veteran that the horrors were all in her/his or her mind, repeat after me: I had no idea what I was talking about, and I am a total (fill in the blank).
Fatigued or Faking?
The same applies to your blow-offs of people who wonder whether they might have chronic fatigue syndrome, that varying spectrum of symptoms including neurological and gastrointestinal problems, muscular abnormalities, fever and nausea; the list goes on.
If you ever told any of these patients to take an aspirin or a Valium, then you really ought to step up and confess to your ignorance and arrogance. You might also consider reading the medical literature on chronic fatigue syndrome that suggests real physical problems and likely viral infection.
Oh, I see, you havent read the studies yet. You didnt have time? Well, then, maybe you should forget about redemption and consider being a car jockey instead.
A New Beginning
If you repent, the skys the limit. Listen up, sinners! Theres hope for you yet. A new day is dawning. Think about it a new century, a new page to turn over, a new chapter, a new life. Time for an important change. You can do it.
But first, you must enter the tent and repent. And given that this country is always ready to forgive those who step up and admit they behaved foolishly, you will probably have a second chance.
As for those members of the media you know who you are who uncritically brought millions of people the ignorant messages that war veterans with a wide variety of symptoms and people with chronic fatigue syndrome were typically either cheats or malingerers, or that the problems were all in their minds, Second Opinion would like to invite you too to confess your sins.
Nicholas Regush produces medical features for
ABCNEWS. In his weekly column, published Wednesdays,
he looks at medical trouble spots, heralds innovative achievements and analyzes
health trends that may greatly influence our lives. His latest book is
U.S. Study Finds
Updated 4:28 PM ET November 30, 1999
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Researchers said Tuesday they have found brain damage in soldiers believed to be suffering from Gulf War Syndrome as a result of chemical exposure during the conflict.
Magnetic resonance scans of 22 veterans found reduced levels of a brain chemical called NAA, suggesting a loss of neurons in the brain stem and basal ganglia, said the report from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
The brain stem controls some reflexes while the basal ganglia affects movement, memory and emotion.
Thousands of soldiers who served in operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield in 1990 and 1991 during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait have complained about health problems including memory loss, sleep disorders, balance problems, depression, exhaustion, body pain, diarrhea and difficulties in concentrating.
Robert Haley, an associate professor of internal medicine at the Texas school, said the new findings validate earlier research which found that some Gulf veterans who complained of the symptoms had a genetic predisposition for brain injury because they were born with low blood levels of the enzyme that breaks down the chemical nerve gas sarin.
Each set of symptoms, he said, "has a slightly different pattern of brain impairment implicating different combinations of neurotoxic chemicals, including chemical nerve gas, side effects from the anti-nerve gas tablets ... insect repellents and pesticides in flea collars," he said.
"One the basis of those results and the veterans' symptoms, we predicted magnetic resonance spectroscopy would show a loss of brain cells in these areas," Haley said. "This finding validates our earlier work."
The report was released in Chicago at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
"Some of these patients are profoundly disabled -- there are stories of some real heroes who now barely are able to drive to the store," said James L. Fleckenstein, a radiology professor at the school.
"Although the existence of Gulf War Syndrome is considered controversial, this is evidence supporting a physical mechanism for the problem. The findings suggest a substantial loss of brain cells in the areas that could explain the veterans' symptoms," he said.
Veterans in the United States have blamed their sicknesses on exposure to organophosphate pesticides or the cocktail of drugs they were given to protect them from chemical and biological war. ...
* CNN Coverage *
Gulf War Veterans Suffered
Web posted at: 1:01 p.m. EST (1801 GMT)
CHICAGO (CNN) -- A new study of two small groups of Gulf War veterans indicates their brains may have been damaged by chemicals they were exposed to while
serving in the region, researchers reported Tuesday at a meeting of radiologists.
"The findings suggest a substantial loss of brain
cells in the areas that could explain the veterans' symptoms," said
James L. Fleckenstein, a professor of radiology at the University
of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas where the research was
War Resource Center Press Release
By Thomas D. Williams and Hartford Courant
November 30, 1999; 11:30 a.m.
The study, combined with earlier related studies, contradict claims by the Pentagon since the Gulf War that low-level chemical agents were not common on battlefields, or, if they were evident, that they could not have been seriously harmful to veterans. Many veterans have complained of persistent illnesses in the years since the war.
``It basically penetrates the denials that they were not sick from Gulf War-related exposures,'' said Dr. James L. Fleckenstein, a professor of radiology at the University of Texas and one of those responsible for the study. ``Now we can move from a point when Gulf War syndrome was debated, to a time when Gulf War disease can be diagnosed, and hopefully an effective treatment can be developed.''
``It confirms what we have known for a long time, that there were serious exposures to chemical warfare out there in the battlefields,'' said former U.S. Sen. Donald W. Riegle Jr., a Michigan Democrat.
As chairman of a Senate committee, it was Riegle who first gathered evidence in 1993 and 1994 that Gulf War soldiers had been exposed to chemical warfare. The evidence revealed in part that hundreds of thousands of chemical alarms had sounded after winds carried chemicals over battlefields during allied bombings of Iraqi chemical weapons plants.
More than 100,000 of the 690,000 Gulf War veterans who served at the height of the 1990-91 war, have reported suffering from symptoms such as memory loss, loss of balance, sleep disorders, depression, exhaustion, joint pain, diarrhea and problems with concentration. These symptoms, the studies say, are consistent with veterans' exposures to chemicals, including chemical warfare, anti-chemical warfare drugs and pesticides.
A group of Navy Seabees as well as some Army soldiers took special magnetic resonance brain scans, which showed they have 10 percent to 25 percent lower levels of a certain chemical in the brain stem and gray matter than healthy soldier-subjects, the new study shows. The brain stem controls some of the body's reflexes, and the gray matter [basal ganglia] controls movement, memory and emotion.
A total of 46 service people were studied. The collection of data took three to four months, and was completed in September 1998.
``The Department of Defense is always interested in high quality research that provides us information concerning the complex set of health problems being encountered by our Persian Gulf War veterans,'' said James Turner, a Pentagon spokesman. ``We look forward to seeing the work in a peer-reviewed scientific journal of stature. Until then, it would be inappropriate for the [department] to comment on an unreleased research paper we haven't seen.''
He said the defense department is continuing to care for active duty Gulf War veterans experiencing problems they believe are associated with their service during the war. So far, he said, the department has provided special physical exams for 38,135 veterans and some family members.
Last month, a report from the Rand Corp., also funded by the Pentagon, revealed that the use of the drug pyridostigmine bromide (PB) by 250,000 soldiers during the Persian Gulf War ``cannot be ruled out'' as a cause of lingering illnesses in some veterans.
The PB pills were supplied to service members by the military despite the experimental nature of their use, and despite the fact that they were effective only against soman gas and dangerous to use in the face of potential sarin gas, accessible to the Iraqis.
Fleckenstein and Dr. Robert Haley, an associate professor of internal medicine and chief of epidemiology, both working at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas were in charge of the brain scan study. It is a significant follow up to earlier studies by Haley of Gulf War veterans, and was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and the [Ross] Perot Foundation of Dallas.
Haley said the findings were significant not only because they show the veterans were telling the truth about their exposure to chemical warfare, but because their brain injuries may be treatable. He said brain cells are not missing in the patients examined, just damaged or atrophied. Although there is no known treatment as of yet, Haley added, there is medical research underway to regenerate nerve cells.
``Some of these [veterans] are profoundly disabled, [some] barely able to drive to the store,'' Fleckenstein said. ``The findings suggest a substantial loss of brain cells in the areas that could explain the veterans''' symptoms.''
The results were released in a press conference Tuesday at the 85th Scientific Assembly of the Radiological Society of North America.
Twenty-two sick Gulf War U.S. Navy veterans studied had lower levels of certain chemicals in the brain than was detected in 18 healthy veterans. That study was consistent with a second one of six Gulf War Army veterans.The doctors doing the study were not told which veterans were healthy or which had symptoms of illness, Haley and Fleckenstein said.
In earlier research, Haley said, he and Texas research doctors identified three primary symptoms indicating brain impairment in sick Gulf War veterans. Their disabilities were consistent with the soldiers' exposures to chemical nerve gas, side effects from PB tablets and insect repellants, and pesticides used in soldiers' flea collars, the earlier study said Critics of the Pentagon quickly reacted to the new study.``Why is Dr. Haley able to figure this out when our government friends and their scientists were unable to do so for so long?'' said retired U.S. Army Maj. Barry Kapplan of Union. Kapplan, a Gulf War veteran, spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to cure a variety of illnesses he and family members contracted and which he believes were related to his war exposures.
``It's nine years late and a whole bunch of medical bills short,'' he said. ``What is this going to do for the veterans now? It's so long after the Gulf War, it's hard to believe veterans can still be treated.''
Riegle, the former senator who now works for an international public relations firm whose work includes health-related issues, called the new study a ``chilling and persuasive finding.''
``It demonstrates again that the Pentagon has worked hardest not to get to the full truth. And, we have all those walking wounded who need medical help and compensation, and they are not getting it,'' Riegle said. ``These findings lend new urgency to bring this issue back to the forefront. I think the president has an obligation to act as the commander in chief, if the Pentagon doesn't do so.''
Copyright © 1999 National Gulf War Resource Center, Inc.
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