First Gulf War Veterans Not At Increased Risk for MS

by U.S. Medicine

March 10, 2014
WASHINGTON — Are veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War at increased risk to develop neurologic disease? That is what a study group, led by researchers from the VA’s multiple sclerosis (MS) Center for Excellence, sought to determine. Their poster presentation, presented at the 2013 Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) meeting in Orlando, noted that the association of neurologic disease and Gulf War service may be related to a variety of potentially hazardous environmental exposures that were present in the war theater.1 To evaluate the risk of developing MS in deployed vs. nondeployed veterans of the First Gulf War (GW1), researchers reviewed medical records and data from the DoD and VA for cases of MS in veterans who served in the military between 1990, the start of the Gulf War (GW) era and 2007 and who were service-connected by the VA. Validated MS cases in veterans who had served in GW1 (1990-1991) were matched to the GW1 database of all active duty troops from the DoD according to deployment status to the war zone. Of the 696,118 troops deployed in GW1, 387 incident MS cases were found. At the same time, 1,457 incident MS cases were identified in about 1.8 million nondeployed personnel. According to the study, the relative risk (RR) for MS among those deployed compared with those nondeployed was 0.68 (CI: 0.61-0.76) with 0.72 (CI: 0.63-0.81) in men and 0.92 (CI: 0.73-1.15) in women. Results indicated that deployment was nonsignificant or protective as an MS risk factor across major racial groups: whites RR 0.62 (CI: 0.54-0.71), blacks RR 0.83 (CI: 0.68-1.02) and other races RR 1.65 (95% CI: 0.70-3.91). That also was the case across all age groups and across each branch of service: Army RR 0.80 (CI: 0.68-0.94), Navy RR 0.57 (CI: 0.45-0.74), Marines RR 0.99 (CI: 0.67-1.47) and Air Force RR 0.66 (CI: 0.50-0.87). “Military deployment to the Theater of Operations in the First Gulf War was not a risk factor for developing MS,” the authors conclude. “Further study of environmental factors that influence recent morbidity trends in MS are needed.” 1 Wallin MT, Mahan C, Maloni H, Culpepper WH, Coffman P, Kurtzke J. Saturday, P24 Military Deployment and Risk For Multiple Sclerosis In The First Gulf War. Poster presented at ACTRIMS meeting, June 1, 2013, Orlando, FL.

Related Articles

MS Surprisingly Prevalent in U.S., Dropping Among Servicemembers

The prevalence of multiple sclerosis in the United States population appears to be nearly double previous estimates. Among servicemembers, however, the rate of new MS diagnoses has dropped significantly in recent years.

Focus on Diabetes Control, Cancer Screening Helps Reduce MS Deaths

OKLAHOMA CITY — While multiple sclerosis (MS) itself remains incurable, development of more effective treatments over the past 25 years has increased life expectancy for patients with the disease. Today, MS patients have a life expectancy only about seven years less than individuals without the disease, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.


U.S. Medicine Recommends


More From 2014 issues

2014 Issues

VA Slammed for Slow Action Against Officials Behind Wait-Time Scandal

Legislators: Only Four Senior Executives Removed by Mid-November

2014 Issues

VA Launches Largest Overhaul Ever as McDonald Pushes Reforms

WASHINGTON - New VA Secretary Robert McDonald continues to methodically tackle the issues that have caused a breakdown in efficient veteran care over the last few years, now pushing the agency to undertake the largest reorganization since its founding.

2014 Issues

VA’s IT Security Controls Cited for 15th Year in a Row

Controversial Scheduling System Will Be Replaced in 2015

2014 Issues

Study Offers New Statistics on How Many OEF/OIF Veterans Have PTSD

WASHINGTON — The process for tracking the DoD’s most serious adverse medical events is “fragmented, impeding the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) ability to ensure that it has received complete information,” according to a new review.... View Article

2014 Issues

Danger of Pneumonia Increases with Veterans’ Worsened Health Status

WASHINGTON — The process for tracking the DoD’s most serious adverse medical events is “fragmented, impeding the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) ability to ensure that it has received complete information,” according to a new review.... View Article

Facebook Comment

Subscribe to U.S. Medicine Print Magazine

U.S. Medicine is mailed free each month to physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and administrators working for Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service.

Subscribe Now

Receive Our Email Newsletter

Stay informed about federal medical news, clinical updates and reports on government topics for the federal healthcare professional.

Sign Up