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Researchers have found more evidence that Agent Orange causes cancer in Vietnam-era veterans who worked with it.
The study of 479 veterans who were involved in Agent Orange defoliation missions during the war shows they have more than twice the risk of developing a blood condition that can lead to cancer as similar veterans who didn’t work with the chemical.
The condition is called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance or MGUS for short. It’s a precursor for multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.
Agent Orange was used to strip Vietnamese and Cambodian jungles and fields by U.S. forces during the Vietnam war. It refers to several herbicides, nicknamed for the orange stripe on the barrels in which they were stored. They include 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid.
The worst effects are seen among the people living in the areas sprayed.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes that Agent Orange causes multiple myeloma as wells as several types of leukemia, other cancers, diabetes, heart disease and Parkinson’s disease. Veterans who can show they were exposed to it are supposed to get medical care for such conditions and they can get disability compensation.
Dr. Ola Landgren of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and colleagues compared 479 Americans involved in Operation Ranch Hand spraying missions to 479 veterans who were not.
They found 7 percent of the Operation Ranch Hand vets had MGUS, compared to 3 percent of other veterans.
“Our findings of increased MGUS risk among Ranch Hand veterans supports an association between Agent Orange exposure and multiple myeloma,” they wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Oncology.