ASPPH logo


Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Gulf War Veterans “Aging” Faster

About 200,000 veterans of the 1991 Gulf War continue to suffer from Gulf War Illness (GWI), a set of symptoms including chronic pain, fatigue, and memory impairment caused by sarin chemical warfare agent, pesticides, and pyridostigmine bromide (PB) pills meant to protect soldiers from nerve gas during deployment.

Decades later, these exposures may also be causing higher rates and earlier onset of chronic medical conditions in Gulf War veterans than their non-veteran peers, according to a new study coauthored by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and Boston University School of Medicine researchers.

The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health as the current issue’s cover story, found Gulf War veterans reported high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, chronic bronchitis, and other chronic conditions at rates normally associated with people about a decade older than them. Veterans who reported being exposed to chemical warfare agents and taking PB pills had especially high rates of heart attack and diabetes.

“Gulf War veterans are showing accelerated aging patterns resulting in more and earlier chronic medical conditions than the general population of civilians,” says study senior author Dr. Kimberly Sullivan, research assistant professor of environmental health at BUSPH.

Read more about the study.