By Debbie Gregory.
Millions of Vietnam War veterans were exposed to Agent Orange, an herbicide that contained dioxin and other dangerous toxins and potential cancer-causing agents. The military used the herbicide to wipe out the foliage and trees to impede the enemy’s ability to hide.
Exposure to the chemical has resulted in increased rates of cancer, and nerve, digestive, skin, and respiratory disorders, in particular, higher rates of acute/chronic leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, throat cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, Ischemic heart disease, soft tissue sarcoma and liver cancer.
Now a new review of Agent Orange research has uncovered evidence that bladder cancer and hypothyroidism are more strongly linked to exposure to the herbicide than previously thought.
The 1,115-page review released by the Institute of Medicine on the health effects of Agent Orange also recommended the Veterans Affairs Department grant service-connected presumption to veterans with “Parkinson’s-like symptoms,” not just those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease related to Agent Orange exposure.
“There is no rational basis for exclusion of individuals with Parkinson’s-like symptoms from the service-related category denoted as Parkinson’s disease,” members of the IOM panel wrote in the report.
The upgrade for bladder cancer and hypothyroidism from the category “inadequate or insufficient evidence” to “limited or suggestive evidence,” of a link, as well as the recommendation to include Parkinson’s-like symptoms to the service-connected list could pave the way for thousands of veterans to receive health care and disability compensation from VA.
The report, released March 10, was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Institute of Medicine is part of the private nonprofit National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.