GULF War veterans continue to have much poorer health than other servicemen but seem no more likely to suffer cancer, a study has shown.
The revelation comes just after a landmark inquest on the death of a Huddersfield soldier where a coroner stated for the first time that a serviceman had died from illnesses linked to service in the first Gulf war.
The ruling by a coroner in Cheshire on former Dalton man Major Ian Hill last month could pave the way for many other former service personnel to take action.
He died at the age of 54 in March 2001 after 10 years of severe health problems including emphysema, severe chest infections, breathing difficulties and the loss of feeling in his hands and feet.
But the cancer revelation came in two studies published in the British Medical Journal which had looked at the well-being of thousands of servicemen amid continued concern about so-called Gulf War Syndrome.
More than 3,000 veterans from the 1991 conflict have said they have suffered from unexplained ailments since the war, including kidney pains, memory loss, chronic fatigue and mood swings.
The servicemen have blamed tablets and vaccinations they received to protect them against nerve agents, anthrax and botulism along with pesticides sprayed on tents.
But the Ministry of Defence has maintained that the illnesses are so varied there can be no specific cause.
Researchers from Guy's, King's and St Thomas's School of Medicine compared the health of veterans up to 2001 - 10 years after the war.
They wrote: "Gulf war veterans continue to experience symptoms that are considerably worse than would be expected in an equivalent cohort of military personnel.
"However, Gulf War veterans are not deteriorating and do not have a higher incidence of new illnesses."
The researchers said the nature of Gulf War illness remained "ambiguous."
They said it would be increasingly difficult to find causes as the years passed.
"We suspect that different psychosocial, military and environmental risk factors may determine onset and recovery," the team concluded.
The second study, led by Professor Gary MacFarlane at the University of Manchester, compared the incidence of cancer in 51,721 Gulf veterans and 50,775 non-deployed personnel in the 11 years since the war.
In the Gulf War group there were 270 cases of cancer, compared with 269 in the non-deployed group.
Even after smoking and alcohol consumption were taken into account, there was still little change in risk between the groups.
The authors noted:
"Although this study should provide some reassurance of a lack of association between deployment to the Gulf and increased risk of cancer, the long latent period for cancer requires that these cohorts should continue to be followed up and their experience of cancer monitored."