No evidence of 'Iraq War Syndrome'

EMBARGO: 00:01H (London time) Tuesday May 16, 2006. In North America the embargo lifts 18:30H ET Monday May 15, 2006.

UK researchers have found no evidence for a new Iraq War syndrome in male armed forces personnel deployed to the 2003 conflict. They report their findings in a paper published online today (Tuesday May 16, 2006) by The Lancet.

UK armed forces personnel who took part in the 1991 Gulf War experienced an increase in symptoms of ill health, commonly known as Gulf War syndrome. There has been speculation about an Iraq War syndrome.

Simon Wessely and colleagues from King's College London, UK, compared the health of male regular UK armed forces personnel who were deployed to the 2003 Iraq War with those not deployed, and compared these findings with those from their previous survey after the 1991 Gulf War. Over 8 000 individuals completed a health questionnaire. The researchers found only slight rises in common symptoms in the 2003 Iraq War group but nothing equivalent to that observed after the Gulf war. They also found that fatigue was not increased after the 2003 Iraq War but was greatly increased after the 1991 Gulf War.

Dr Wessely concludes: "Increases in common symptoms in the 2003 Iraq War group were slight, and no pattern suggestive of a new syndrome was present."

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See also accompanying Comment on these papers.

Contact: Ruth Whitbread, Public Relations Department, King's College London. Tel: 020 7848 4334/ 07811 139101 (mobile) Email: ruth.whitbread@kcl.ac.uk

The Lancet press office T) 0207 424 4949/4249 pressoffice@lancet.com


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