Study Reveals Long-term Carcinogenic Effects of Agent Orange

Veterans of the Vietnam War have noted with interest a recent report from the University of Texas, which suggests that there is a link between Agent Orange exposure and certain types of skin cancer. The authors of the study claim that TCDD, the designation for one type of the chemical agent dioxin and the trade name for Agent Orange, is one of the most carcinogenic substances ever to see widespread use in the environment.

Even four decades after the fact, the study found that Agent Orange exposure still led to an increased incidence of skin cancers. Their study analyzed records of 100 men who were enrolled in the Agent Orange registry at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C., during the period of August 2009 to January 2010.

Results of the study show that non-melanotic invasive skin cancer occurred 51 percent more often in veterans that were exposed to Agent Orange, a rate twice that seen in men of similar ages who had not been exposed. The cancer risk rose to 73 percent for those who actively used and sprayed the chemical. Soldiers with lighter skin or light colored eyes were at the greatest risk. Many of the veterans surveyed also developed chloracne, a painful skin condition associated with exposure to dioxins.

The Department of Veterans Affairs currently provides disability benefits for certain health problems and symptoms that have been shown to result from prolonged exposure to dioxin by veterans of the Vietnam conflict, but skin cancer is currently not included. It is hoped that the results of this study will expand the coverage and allow affected veterans to receive proper treatment and compensation.

Source: United Press International, “Agent Orange exposed Vietnam veterans higher skin cancer risk “, January 29, 2014.