Saturday, July 27, 2013

Researchers find biological evidence of Gulf War illness.

The New York Times (6/15, Dao, Subscription Publication, 1.68M) reported that in the “two decades since the 1991 Persian Gulf war, medical researchers have struggled to explain a mysterious amalgam of problems in thousands of gulf war veterans, including joint pain, physical malaise and gastrointestinal disorders. In some medical circles, the symptoms were thought to be psychological, the result of combat stress. But recent research is bolstering the view” that the symptoms of Gulf War illness “are fundamentally biological in nature.”
        The Los Angeles Times (6/14, Zarembo, 692K) reported, “Their bodies reacted differently to physical exertion, and their brains had atrophied in different regions. None of the patterns were seen in a control group of healthy subjects.” Two separate groups of veterans emerged from the researchers data. One had increased pain levels after exercise, and the other suffered from a condition that caused the heart the race after exercise.
        USA Today (6/14, Kennedy, 1.71M) reported, researchers “found atrophy to the brain stem and cerebellum in the abnormal heart rate group. This is the area that controls blood pressure and heart rate. In the pain group, they found a decrease in gray matter volume in the right superior parietal lobe, which is the area that processes pain.” Damage to distinct areas of the brain was seen in both groups.
        Forbes (6/14, Ruiz, 928K) reported, “In both subgroups, the evidence suggested dysfunction in the central nervous system. ... Before the exercise, the veterans’ brains in both groups showed increased activity while trying to complete a memory test as compared to the controls. ... after exercise, the difference was shocking. When veterans in the group with increased pain took the test, their brains appeared blank, and both groups lost the compensatory activity.”
        HealthDay (6/17, Preidt) reports, “There may be two distinct forms of the illness, depending on which areas of the brain have atrophied.” Conducting brain scans researchers found evidence of increased use the basal ganglia part of the brain in some veterans. “Increased use of the basal ganglia is also seen in people with degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.”

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