The possible cause behind Gulf Syndrome, the mysterious illness that has plagued US soldiers for decades

American scientists they say that have discovered what caused thousands of soldiers who served in the 1991 Gulf War to fall ill with mysterious symptoms.

They have blamed the sarin nerve agentwhat was released into the air when they bombed Iraqi chemical weapons depots.

Many veterans have complained of a variety of debilitating symptoms that developed after their service in Iraq.

But for decades the cause of Gulf War Syndrome has remained elusive.

Sarin is usually deadly, but Dr. Robert Haley, who led the investigation into what happened, said the gas soldiers were exposed to in Iraq it was diluted and therefore not fatal.

«But it was enough to make people sick if they were genetically predisposed to get sick,» he said.

Haley said the key to knowing if someone got sick was a gene known as PON1, which plays an important role in breaking down toxic chemicals in the body.

His team found that veterans with a less effective version of the PON1 gene were more likely to get sick.

The recent study, funded largely by the US government, involved more than 1,000 randomly selected US Gulf War veterans.

Haley, who works at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said: «This is the most definitive study. We believe it will withstand any criticism. And we hope that our findings will lead to a treatment that alleviates some of the symptoms,” she said.

Many British cases

More than 50,000 British soldiers served in the war that followed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

Kerry Fuller photographed during the Gulf War.Kerry Fuller photographed during the Gulf War. (Photo: FULLER FAMILY)

The Royal British Legion said research suggests that up to 33,000 UK Gulf War veterans could be living with the syndrome and 1,300 claim a war pension for conditions related to their service in the Gulf.

For the past three decades, veterans say they have fought to have their disease taken seriously.

Before the war, Kerry Fuller from Dudley in the West Midlands was a fit 26-year-old who loved climbing and went to the gym several times a week. He now every day he fights a battle just to get out of bed.

At the age of 40, he had a stroke. Now 58, he says he has such excruciating muscle and joint pain that he screams so loudly when he moves at night that he wakes up his entire family. He suffers from balance, memory and speech problems.

“Even when I was still in the military, I would suffer from illness after illness, respiratory problems, chronic fatigue,” he said.

“And when I asked if it might have something to do with my service in the Gulf or what we were exposed to, the answer was ‘you’re talking nonsense, there’s no evidence. Two paracetamol. Hurry,’” she added.

no positive responses

The National Association of Gulf Veterans and Families, a charity that works with sick British ex-soldiers, welcomed the completion of the study.

British troops were part of the international coalition organized to respond to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.British troops were part of the international coalition organized to respond to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. (Photo: GETTY IMAGES)

«For 30 years they have been disowned, ignored and lied to by successive governments, with no positive answers to their questions about exposure to toxic substances and gases and the effect it had on them both physically and mentally,» he said in a statement.

“We hope that the UK government please note this report and respond by offering Gulf veterans access/opportunity to get tested. Hopefully this will lead to more meaningful and appropriate medical treatment that has been denied them for far too long,” he added.

The British Ministry of Defense said: «We continue to monitor and welcome any new research that is published around the world and financial support is available to veterans whose illness is due to service through the Ministry’s War Pensions. of Defense and the occupational pension plans of the Armed Forces”.

But the Royal British Legion said there has been «few significant investigations” on Gulf War Syndrome in the UK.

Professor Randall Parrish of the University of Portsmouth published a study last year that ruled out depleted uranium as a cause.

“I think this is a great example of a problem that has taken a long-term effort to solve, but only a few scientists have persisted with; others give up and assume that it is not a real disease or too complex to solve; and the funding agencies don’t want to get too involved in the politics of that,” he noted.

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