The condition known as Gulf War syndrome is said to affect 25 percent of Gulf War veterans, and is characterized by memory loss, lack of concentration, fatigue, neuropathic pain and depression. The Defense Department has argued for years that it is not, in fact, a treatable physiological condition, but rather a "form of combat stress." But scientists have just proven the opposite: It's conclusively the result of brain damage due to exposure to sarin nerve gas.
The UT Southwestern study, published in the journal Radiology, employed cutting-edge MRI technology to measure blood flow in the brains of veterans with GWS.
[Dr. Robert Haley, chief epidemiologist at UT Southwestern] used a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which acts to slow the heart rate and blood flow to the brain, making you groggy. For those with receptors damaged by nerve gas, they don't become groggy at all. In fact, sometimes it has the opposite effect.
The MRIs showed a marked decrease of blood flow in brains of GWS patients. They don't know how to cure it yet, but at least it's a step in the right direction. At least now the military has no excuse to deny research funding because GWS isn't a "legitimate" war injury. [Dallas Observer, photo via Getty]