The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

July/August 2005
Agent Orange Committee Report
   
 

A Final Analysis

BY GEORGE CLAXTON, CHAIR

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.

This report, 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.

Results from 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 dioxin.

The news 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 adverse.”

Similarly, “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.

I’m proud 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 spraying.

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.

   

Visit The VVA Veteran archives
to locate back issues.

E-mail us at TheVeteran@vva.org


     Home | Membership | Publications | Events | Government Relations | Contact Us
Press Releases | Benefits | Meetings & Special Events | Collectibles | Contributions and Sponsorships | Site Index

Vietnam Veterans of America ® 
8605 Cameron Street, Suite 400
Silver Spring, Maryland  20910-3710
301-585-4000, Fax 301-585-0519, 1-800-VVA-1316  

Copyright © 2005 by the Vietnam Veterans of America. All rights reserved.