Sunday, March 26, 2006

Gulf War Syndrome

Apparently no single cause has been found for "Gulf War Syndrome".

This has caused the Royal Society, Britain's leading science academy, to dismiss it as a recongnizable disease. I don't see why this should cause people to deny its existence, though, as the Times article I linked to does, as there are plenty of diseases or disorders that are exclusionary diagnoses (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, and sudden infant death syndrome come to mind).

According to the Royal Society, Gulf War Syndrome has not caused an increase in mortality amongst Gulf War veterans, which is a more important finding in terms of the syndrome's existence than an inability to find a single cause. Moreover, whether Gulf War Syndrome is fatal or not, the Royal Society not appear to deny that there is an increase in illness associated with the Gulf War.

Of course, it should be noted that the Royal Society has been receiving government funding since 1850, so it might be worthwhile to look over their methodology in erms of calculating fatalities to make certain that it wasn't spun so as to minimize the impact of the disease, in order to, you know, keep Mothe Empire with her purse strings happy.

Likewise, "I believe there is little value in conducting further research into the causes," as Professor Simon Wessely, Co-Director of Kings College Centre for Military Health Research, says, could be taken in several ways. Presumably, we are meant to assume that further research would be fruitless because the syndrome is too diffuse (which reminds me, are they looking for a common cause for the entire syndrome, or are they just looking for a common cause for the individual illnesses that make up the syndrome? I would seem more fruitful to look for common cause for common symptoms, but I am assuming they have done that). However, there could also be pressure from above not to investigate, or perhaps they there is little value in conducting further research because they keep hitting "classified information" walls.

Of course, perhaps they are being totally forthright, and there really is no particular illness except for those that are always associated with wars. But the possibility of cover-ups to protect the continued use of depleted uranium or to prevent leaks about government blunders is always in the back of my mind.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Scott Horton's The Stress Blog.

That is all.

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