The Committee has examined exposure and, independently, expected health effects
for ten Gulf War risk factors: pesticides, CW agents, BW agents, vaccines, PB,
infectious disease, DU, oil-well fire smoke, petroleum products, and
psychological and physiological stress. In our evaluation, we used the
substantial amount of relevant scientific information available in published
peer reviewed literature, interviews with experts, invited testimony, public
comment, and discussions with scientific experts in academic and government
agencies. For most of the risk factors evaluated, the Committee has
determined-even in the absence of exposure data-they are unlikely to be
associated with the health problems currently reported by Gulf War veterans.
Based on its review, the Committee makes the following findings and
Although some veterans clearly have service-connected illnesses,
current scientific evidence does not support a causal link between the symptoms
and illnesses reported today by Gulf War veterans and exposures while in the
Gulf region to the following environmental risk factors assessed by the
Committee: pesticides, chemical warfare agents, biological warfare agents,
vaccines, pyridostigmine bromide, infectious diseases, depleted uranium,
oil-well fires and smoke, and petroleum products. Some of these risk factors
explain specific, diagnosed illness in a few Gulf War veterans, for example,
leishmaniasis has been diagnosed in 32 individuals. Prudence requires further
investigation of some areas of uncertainty, such as the long-term effects of
low-level exposure to chemical warfare agents and the synergistic effects of
exposure to pyridostigmine bromide and other risk factors.
A number of Gulf War risk factors-e.g., mustard agent, aflatoxin, and
certain petroleum products-are potential human carcinogens that could cause
increased rates of cancer beginning decades after exposure.
Stress is known to affect the brain, immune system, cardiovascular system,
and various hormonal responses. Stress manifests in diverse ways, and is likely
to be an important contributing factor to the broad range of physiological and
psychological illnesses currently being reported by Gulf War veterans.
DOD and VA should perform long-term mortality studies of Gulf War veterans
appropriate for investigating cancer rates in the Gulf War veteran population
in the coming decades.
The entire federal research portfolio should place greater emphasis on
basic and applied research on the physiologic effects of stress and
As noted, individuals in this group also were assessed for SCEs, which were
found to increase with deployment to Kuwait and remain elevated even after the
return to Germany.154 SCEs are a sensitive measure of DNA damage and repair and
occur at a background rate in normal cells, but increase with exposures to DNA
damaging agents. It is not clear what exposures in Kuwait could have led to the
observed increases, since elevated SCEs are a nonspecific measure that can
reflect exposure to infections and vaccinations, or to dietary, occupational,
or environmental mutagens.
**In chapter 2, we identify those areas for which we believe new research data
could fill in current gaps in knowledge.
join the discussion .
analyzing the major theories .
five interviews .
the veterans .
a closer look .
examining the media's role .
a guide to the site .
comparing gulf veterans' health with other veterans .
tapes & transcripts .
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