By Kelly Kennedy, USA TODAY, June 26, 2011:
WASHINGTON — Anti-oxidant supplements can significantly reduce the symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome, suffered by tens of thousands of veterans, according to research to be presented Monday to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The study by Beatrice Golomb of the medical school at the University of California-San Diego tested the value of giving doses of the coenzyme Q10 to veterans of the Persian Gulf War. "Every single one of them … improved," Golomb said, adding that there was improvement for all 20 symptoms. "For it to have been chance alone is under one in a million."
More than 20 years after the end of the Gulf War, the 1990-91 conflict that liberated Kuwait after an invasion by Iraq, Golomb's study is the first research that offers potential relief for sufferers of Gulf War Syndrome, said Jim Binns, chairman of the federal panel investigating the condition.
Roughly one in four of the 697,000 veterans of the war has Gulf War illness, according to the federal Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses. Symptoms include memory and concentration problems, chronic headaches, widespread pain, gastrointestinal problems and chronic fatigue.
"It is the first medication study to show a significant improvement of a major symptom of Gulf War illness in the history of Gulf War illness research," said Binns, the committee chairman. Although it's not a cure, Binns said, and requires further research, "it is extremely encouraging."
Golomb said the treatments helped veterans with headaches, inability to focus and fatigue after exertion. There were also unexpected benefits, she said, such as fewer symptoms for participants suffering from chronic diarrhea and improved blood pressure levels. She worked with 46 veterans.
Golomb found that those with Gulf War illness had the same list of symptoms as those with genetic mitochondrial disorders. Mitochondria convert oxygen and glucose into cell energy. The brain and the muscles use more energy than other parts of the body, so those organs are affected first by the disorder.
"Oxidated stress can come from a lot of bad things in the environment," Golomb said, explaining that causes the problems in the mitochondria. Her past research has involved chemical exposures in the Persian Gulf, such as sarin gas, pesticides and anti-nerve-agent pills.
The unpublished results will be released at a committee meeting at the VA .
The research was funded by the Defense Department through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs.