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Daily News Archive
From January 16, 2001

Defense Department Admits Pesticides May be to Blame for Gulf War Syndrome

According to Environmental News Service (ENS), Defense Department's special assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, Dr. Bernard Rostker, told reporters in his final address that pesticides, but not exposure to depleted uranium, may be "among the potential contributing agents" to illnesses among Gulf War veterans.

A study commissioned by the US government suggests that pesticides, specifically acetylcholinesterase inhibitors such as organophosphates and carbamates, could be among the potential contributing agents to some of the undiagnosed illnesses reported by Gulf War veterans. The Defense Department says exposure to these pesticides cannot be ruled out as a potential contributing factor to some of these undiagnosed illnesses.

"Acetylcholinesterase is critical to regulating nerve signaling, and we find that acetylcholinesterase inhibitors do present in the literature chronic symptoms that have been reported by some Gulf War veterans," Dr. Anthony told ENS. "You can find symptoms similar to those you see in Gulf War veterans - fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headaches, cognitive problems and sleep disruptions. Further, we note that there is a reported biological role of acetylcholinesterase in the symptoms that provide some plausibility for the illness that we see in Gulf War veterans."