That dioxin is a deadly toxin cannot be disputed. The weight
of scientific evidence is just too great.
The Department of Defense released in
early July the latest report of the Air Force Ranch Hand Study
on the health effects of exposure to herbicides in Vietnam.
And guess what? The final examination of the 20-year
epidemiological study provides the strongest evidence yet that
Agent Orange is associated with adult-onset diabetes.
along with many other studies on herbicide and dioxin
exposure, will be reviewed by the National Academy of
Sciences. Based upon this review, the Secretary of Veterans
Affairs can ask Congress for legislation on disability
compensation and health care.
the 2002 physical examination suggest that as dioxin levels
increase, not only are the presence and severity of
adult-onset diabetes increased, but the time to onset of the
disease is decreased. A 166 percent increase in diabetes
requiring insulin control was seen in those with the highest
levels of dioxin in their system.
Cardiovascular disease findings were not consistent, according
to a news release from DoD. Separate studies have found an
increased risk of cardiovascular death in Ranch Hand enlisted
ground crews, the subgroup with the highest average serum
release went on: “Overall, Ranch Hand pilots and ground crews
examined in 2002 had not experienced a statistically
significant increase in heart disease relative to the
comparison group. Associations between measures of cardiac
function and history of heart diseases and herbicide or dioxin
exposure were not consistent or clinically interpretable as
“the Ranch Hand enlisted ground crews, the subgroup with the
highest dioxin levels and presumably the greatest herbicide
exposure, exhibited a 14 percent decreased risk of cancer.”
We do not
concur. We believe that dioxin is associated with a lot more
conditions that ravage and can eventually end the lives of our
brother and sister veterans. We believe that the Ranch Hand
Study should not end the government’s investigation into the
adverse health effects caused by or associated with exposure
to Agent Orange. We are particularly concerned for our
offspring and their children: There must be further
investigation into the intergenerational effects of dioxin.
that VVA took the lead and prodded the government to recognize
the insidious and lingering effects of Agent Orange and other
defoliants on the health and well-being of ground troops in
Vietnam—and, of course, the Air Force “hands” that did the
I hope that
VVA will continue to lead, advocating and putting pressure on
the powers that be in our government and insisting that
additional research be properly funded and undertaken. We owe
this to our children; the government owes this to us.