Heart Disease Risk Linked To Agent Orange
New research shows that Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange may be at increased risk for ischemic heart disease and Parkinson’s disease. The link is less than clear because of flawed studies. A mandatory two year review of literature shows “limited or suggestive evidence of an association” between Agent Orange and other herbicides used as a defoliant and health problems.
Studies showing that Agent Orange increased the risk of heart disease could not be adjusted to include other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure or diabetes, leaving the link between decreased blood flow to the heart (ischemic heart disease), and Agent Orange exposure unclear. The studies concluded that exposure may increase heart disease risk.
Testing of the effects of Agent Orange has not been performed on animals. Researchers reviewing evidence, from the Institute of Medicine, suggest that studies need to be done to see if veterans exposed to the chemical are indeed at increased risk for Parkinson’s disease.
Some studies also suggest increased risk of hairy cell leukemia, a type of lymphoma, from herbicide exposure, another possible health problem related to Agent Orange exposure.
Agent Orange was sprayed between 1962 and 1970 in Southern Vietnam, possibly leaving veterans at risk for future health problems from exposure to the defoliant. No one knows to what degree vets were exposed to Agent Orange. Boats and ground equipment carried on the backs of Vietnam veterans also dispersed the herbicide.
There is some evidence that exposure to Agent Orange is linked to heart disease, hairy cell leukemia and Parkinson’s disease, but studies are limited. Other contaminants that may have placed Vietnam vets at risk include TCDD, a type of dioxin, and other herbicides used to defoliate the ground. Studies also suggest that TCDD exposure increases risk of heart disease. The committee says that though studies are not entirely clear, there is incresing evidence to suggest that Agent Orange, TCDD and other herbicide exposure is linked to several health risks.