There's growing evidence of a potential link between military service and developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a new report contends.
ALS is a rare but fatal neurodegenerative disease. The report, from the U.S. Institute of Medicine, concludes that further research is needed to confirm a connection, since there are only five studies so far on the relationship between military service and the disease.
"The connection is pretty strong statistically," said Dr. Richard T. Johnson, chairman of the committee that wrote the report and Distinguished Service Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine. "But the risk [of developing ALS] is small," he added. "It's only a 50 percent increase in risk."
Of the five studies, three that were done among Gulf War veterans found that the chance of veterans developing ALS was two times higher than for the general population, or for veterans who weren't in that 1990-1991 war.
My first thought when reading this news.....immunizations. Maybe not the dead viruses themselves, but the significant amount of extraneous junk that goes into a soldier's system. Couple that with huge amounts of stress and the immune system goes haywire.
This is a theory. The scientists theorize that the problem is a genetic proclivity coupled with an environmental toxin. It seems to me that that theory could be tested. For example, have all the sufferers been exposed to an increased amount of fill-in-the-blank chemical? If not, one would have to assume that their immune systems are triggered by a substance most people fight easily.
Anyway, it is just awful that even a tiny number of service members must suffer this disease after giving so much to their country. The cause MUST be found and aggressively investigated.