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Veterans Exposed To Agent Orange Likely To Develop Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism

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During the Vietnam War, the herbicide Agent Orange was utilized by American soldiers on vegetation to successfully eliminate potential areas where the enemy can take cover.

Agent Orange is a potent combination of chemicals 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Approximately 19 million gallons of the herbicide were used across 4.5 million acres during the war in Vietnam.

The findings of a new Agent Orange research found that veterans exposed to the herbicide have higher chances of developing bladder cancer or hypothyroidism. Previous reports from an ongoing Air Force research suggested an association between the herbicide and spina bifida, a condition that affects the spinal cord. Now, the connection has been cleared.

"[T]he birth defect spina bifida in the offspring of Vietnam veterans was demoted from 'limited/suggestive' down to 'inadequate/insufficient,'" wrote the Institute of Medicine, which released the report.

The updated report analyzed studies on Agent Orange published between October 2012 and September 2014. The panel that conducted the report was chaired by Dr. Kenneth Ramos, professor of medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences.

The panel changed Agent Orange's association to hypothyroidism and bladder cancer to "limited or suggestive" evidence, from the previous "inadequate or insufficient" evidence.

The finding will hopefully lead thousands of war veterans to get the service-related treatment they need. An estimated 2.6 million American soldiers served during the Vietnam War.

The report also came with recommendations for the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer service-related disability designations to war veterans who show "Parkinson's-like symptoms" but are not diagnosed with the condition.

Agent Orange exposure accounted for approximately 400,000 deaths or injuries during the Vietnam War. Vietnam also claimed that Agent Orange is the cause of birth defects of more than 500,000 children as well as the cancer cases of 2 million citizens.

On behalf of the Vietnamese people, several U.S. companies involved in the production of chemicals that were used in making the herbicide were sued in 2004. But the class action lawsuit, which called for billions in damages, was dismissed.

Photo: Georgia National Guard | Flickr

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