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First Gulf War and Autoimmune Diseases

By Elaine Moore on 8/30/2008

Soldiers in the First Gulf War have an increased Incidence of health problems. Several compelling studies show that exposure to environmental toxins encountered by soldiers in the first Persian Gulf War can cause chronic neurological and autoimmune diseases including: multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Environmental Toxins

Soldiers in the first Gulf War encountered airborne particulates in the form of 2-micron-size Arabian sand. Compounding the problem, this fine sand was sprayed with toxic insecticides and contaminated with spilled diesel oil. This sand was then kicked up with tanks and other vehicles. Contaminated sand is considered the prime source of the respiratory ailments affecting Gulf War veterans.

In addition, microscopic sand flies are also present in Arabian sand. Inhaled, the sand fly will lay dormant for years and then attack the immune system.

Additional health threats that were underestimated during the first Gulf War include exposure to investigational vaccines for anthrax and other nerve agents, poor techniques for purifying water, exposure to Mycoplasma fermentens, and the release of sarin gas and related chemicals into the atmosphere during bombing raids on Iraqi chemical-storage bunkers.

Steve Robinson, executive director of the advocacy agency Veterans for America describes Gulf War veterans as having a unique propensity toward brain cancer, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and certain birth defects. Chronic multi-symptom illnesses unique to each soldier can also occur. According to Robinson, the term Gulf War Syndrome rather than disease limits the medical benefits provided to these veterans.

Disease Incidence

Over the years, raw data from the Veterans Benefits Administration suggest more than 11,000 of the 696,841 Gulf War veterans have died from various injuries and illnesses, and more than 256,000 have filed claims against the government for veterans compensation or medical care. This is a significantly higher incidence of diseases than seen in veterans of the Vietnam War.

The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments have formally recognized brain cancer deaths, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and fibromyalgia as potentially connected to service during the Persian Gulf War, and congressional representatives are now investigating the link to multiple sclerosis. Other autoimmune disorders that have been linked to the Gulf War include systemic lupus erythematosus and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Low Dose Naltrexone

Because of LDN’s ability to improve neurological disorders it’s currently being studied for its benefits in Gulf War Syndrome.


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