Ten years after their deployment, veterans of the Gulf War in 1990-1991 do not seem to be more likely than normal to develop lung or breathing problems, investigators report.
Dr. Joel. B. Karlinsky of Boston University School of Medicine and colleagues noted that Gulf War veterans from the U.S., the U.K. and Canada often complain of respiratory symptoms. In an effort to objectively evaluate the situation, Karlinsky and his associates conducted physical and laboratory evaluations of 1036 deployed veterans and 1103 non-deployed counterparts at 16 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers across the U.S. The two groups had similar histories of visits to doctors or hospitals for breathing problems, as well as use of inhaled corticosteroids and bronchodilators, the team reports in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Also, spirometry test results did not differ significantly between those who had seen service in the Gulf and those who had not. When the investigators analyzed results separately for individuals potentially exposed to the nerve agents sarin and cyclosarin — believed to be released during the destruction of a munitions storage site at Khamisiyah, Iraq — the rate of lung function abnormalities was still no higher than normal. Thus, the researchers conclude that the findings “do not support the hypothesis that Gulf War deployment in 1990-1991 resulted in an increased prevalence of objectively measured, clinically significant pulmonary abnormalities.” (Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, December 2004)