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Date of this Version



Ann Epidemiol 2010;20:265–272; doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2009.11.012


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine whether proportional cancer incidence is greater among Gulf War veterans compared with non-Gulf War veterans.

METHODS: Files obtained from the Defense Manpower Data Center included data for 621,902 veterans who were deployed to the Persian Gulf during the 1990 to 1991 Gulf War (August 2, 1990, to March 1, 1991) and 746,248 non-Gulf War veteran controls. Identification of veterans who received a cancer diagnosis between 1991 and 2006 was accomplished through record linkage of the Defense Manpower Data Center dataset with files from 28 state cancer registries and the Department of Veterans Affairs Central Cancer Registry. By the use of logistic regression, proportional incidence ratios adjusted for demographic and military characteristics were calculated by comparing the proportion of a specific cancer among all cancers in the Gulf War veterans to the proportion of that specific cancer among all cancers in the non- Gulf War veterans.

RESULTS: Only lung cancer showed a statistically significant relative excess among Gulf War veterans compared with non-Gulf War veterans (adjusted proportional incidence ratios, 1.15; 95% confidence interval, 1.03-1.29). When adjusted for race, age, and sex, the overall proportion of cancers among Gulf War and non-Gulf War veterans was similar (odds ratio, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.96-1.02).

CONCLUSIONS: With the exception of lung cancer, there is little evidence of excess risk of cancer associated with Gulf War deployment.Afollow-up study is warranted to confirm this finding and to evaluate the role of greater smoking rates among deployed personnel.

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