Even 30 years after exposure
Scientists are more certain than ever that Agent Orange is causing cancer in Vietnam War veterans.
A recent study of 479 Vietnam veterans who were involved in Agent Orange defoliation efforts in that country found that these individuals are twice as likely to develop a blood condition known as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, or MGUS. The disorder is a precursor for multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.
During the Vietnam War, Agent Orange was used by U.S. forces to kill off trees and vegetation in the jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia that the enemy used as cover. The chemical is composed of several herbicides – including 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid – nicknamed for the orange stripe on the barrels in which they were stored. When these two herbicides are combined, they create a carcinogen dioxin known as TCDD, which is the most toxic of dioxins.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes that Agent Orange causes multiple myeloma, several types of leukemia, and other cancers, as well as diabetes, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Veterans are supposed to receive care for their medical problems if they can prove they were exposed to the chemical, and they can get disability compensation.