Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
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Sarin Harmed Soldiers´ Brain Structure and Function
by Lourdes Salvador
In 1996, the Department of Defense announced that more than 100,000 United States troops who fought in the Gulf War had potentially been exposed to sarin and cyclosarin gasses during the demolition of Iraqi munitions caches at Khamisiyah, Iraq, in March of 1991.
Sarin and cyclosarin are potentially lethal organophosphate chemical agents which interfere with the transmission of nerve impulses.
One in four of these troops returned home with a mysterious ailment that has come to be known as Gulf War illness. Studies consistently show that Gulf War illness is not the result of post traumatic stress as initially believed. In fact, Gulf War veterans have lower rates of posttraumatic stress than those of other wars.
Gulf War illness is a multi-system illness that affects at least one fourth of the 697,000 U.S. veterans who served in the Gulf War. These veterans experience persistent memory loss, concentration problems, headaches, widespread pain, gastrointestinal problems, and many other chronic abnormalities not explained by other diagnoses.
Even after nearly 20 years, these veterans still experience worsening health.
Research now shows that the sarin and cyclosarin agents these soldiers were exposed to can have harmful effects on brain structure and brain function as much as a decade into the future.
Recent studies have shown reduced cognitive function and atrophied white matter in the brain that increases with a veteran´s estimated sarin and cyclosarin exposure.
A new study confirms that exposed soldiers have reduced grey matter and a smaller hippocampus volume when they are compared to their unexposed peers.
The hippocampus regulates emotion and memory. It is also part of the olfactory system responsible for the sense of smell. Grey matter contains the nerve cells in the brain.
These findings suggest an explanation for the symptoms of Gulf War Illness.
Chao LL, Rothlind JC, Cardenas VA, Meyerhoff DJ, Weiner MW. Effects of low-level exposure to sarin and cyclosarin during the 1991 Gulf War on brain function and brain structure in US veterans. Neurotoxicology. 2010 May 21. [Epub ahead of print]
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2010 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America
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