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Monday, 25 November, 2002, 12:10 GMT
'No nerve link' to Gulf War disease
Gulf soldiers
Many Gulf War veterans claim to have been affected
A battery of nerve tests carried out on former servicemen who claim exposure to chemicals during the Gulf War made them ill has failed to find any trace of damage.

The MoD-funded study - to be published in the journal Neurology on Tuesday - was instantly condemned as "propaganda" by veterans groups.

Many veterans say that they have fallen sick with a variety of unexplained symptoms since serving in the Middle East.


It's obvious that these people are suffering

Professor Simon Wessely, King's College London
Their symptoms include fatigue, joint stiffness, muscle weakness and pain, and even bladder, bowel or sexual dysfunction.

While no link has ever been proven, they claim that exposure to chemicals during their time of service could have triggered this.

No difference

Researchers at Guy's Hospital in London compared Gulf War veterans complaining of illness with others apparently in good health.

They wanted to test one theory suggesting that nerve damage in the peripheral nervous system was to blame for the illness.

They conducted detailed clinical assessments of nerves and muscles - and none of these found any differences between the two groups.

Professor Simon Wessely from King's College London - who led the study - told the BBC: "It's obvious that these people are suffering - which could be down to a whole variety of causes in a whole variety of systems.

"We were looking at nerves that connect the brain to the rest of the body.

"We didn't look at the central nervous system."


All they want to do is push this under the table until they have got this new Gulf War going

Tony Flint, National Gulf Veterans and Families Association

'Not in the mind'

The National Gulf Veterans and Families Association said that a disproportionately high number of veterans were suffering from far more serious illnesses, such as the progressive motor neurone disease.

Tony Flint, from the association, said: "All they want to do is push this under the table until they have got this new Gulf War going.

"But it won't be pushed under the table because the guys that go out there will come back with the same problems that we have got."

A spokesman for the MoD said that the report should "reassure" Gulf War Veterans.

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25 Sep 02 | Health
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