A new genetic study published in Environmental Health Perspectives claims that Gulf War illness (GWI) is caused by sarin nerve gas.
The findings from a team of experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center unveiled that veterans exposed to sarin were more likely to develop the illness, with the risk modulated by a gene that ordinarily allows the bodies of people exposed to break down the nerve gas.
GWI is characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, fever, memory and concentration difficulties, night sweats, and diarrhea.
The new research entailed 508 deployed veterans with GWI and an additional 508 with no indications of the illness. Sarin exposure was established via survey questions as well as blood and DNA samples gathered from each participant.
The samples gathered were tested for variants of a gene known as PON1. The study uncovered that Gulf War veterans with the QQ genotype who were chemically exposed had a higher chance of developing GWI.
“For Gulf War veterans with the QQ genotype, hearing nerve agent alarms—a proxy for chemical exposure—raised their chance of developing GWI by 3.75 times,” according to a news release of the findings. “For those with the QR genotype, the alarms raised their chance of GWI by 4.43 times.”
“Quite simply, our findings prove that Gulf War illness was caused by sarin, which was released when we bombed Iraqi chemical weapons storage and production facilities,” the study’s first author concluded in a news release.