Gulf War Vets May Be At Risk For Lou Gehrig's Disease
Posted December 12, 2001 1:42 a.m. EST
HOPE MILLS, N.C. — First, it was the Gulf War Syndrome. Now, veterans of Desert Storm are finding out they may be at risk for another illness. Researchers say Americans who served in the Gulf War are twice as likely as other military personnel to develop what is known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
As a Gulf War veteran, David Hayworth said being overseas were some of the best times of his life and some of the worst.
"When I came back, I began to realize slowly that my health was deteriorating," he said.
In the mid 1990s, doctors diagnosed Hayworth with post tramautic stress disorder. He blames his illness on a chemical exposure during his tour in Iraq.
Now that researchers have found a possible link between Gulf War veterans and Lou Gehrig's Disease or ALS, a disease of the nervous system, Hayworth wonders if there is something more to his illness.
"I believe our medical doctors need to start focusing on this problem that Gulf War vets have," he said.
Veterans and their families have complained for years that service in the Persian Gulf resulted in mysterious illnesses that killed some vets and continue to plague nearly 150,000 others.
Neurologist Dr. Martin Chipman has served 30 years in the military. He worked with Medical Defense Against Chemical Weapons, where he researched the effects of toxins on human health. He said he is skeptical about the study's links to ALS.
"Certainly, toxins could be involved, but as of this moment, we're not entirely sure," he said.
Classic signs of ALS include muscle weakness, speech problems, and twitching, but doctors say that could be the signs of dozens of other illnesses. The best advice is to see your doctor.