Just remember we were in one of the worst place's Thanks Tommy
HEADLINE Air force study finds link between diabetes, Agent Orange
BYLINE Jim Mannion
DATELINE WASHINGTON, March 29
The US Air Force has found a strong link between adult onset
diabetes and dioxin exposure among US pilots and ground crews who were
exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, the
senior investigator announced Wednesday.
Joel Michalek, who leads the Air Force Health Study, said a recent
study found "the strongest evidence to date that exposure to Agent
Orange is associated with adult onset diabetes" among those who were
involved in the aerial spraying of the chemicals.
"A 47 percent increase in diabetes was seen in those veterans with the
highest levels of dioxin," Michalek said. "This is particularly strong
evidence since dioxin is that component of Agent Orange that has been
linked to health effects in laboratory animals."
The results suggested that the higher the dioxin level, the greater
the severity of the disease and the more quickly it manifested itself,
Veterans groups expressed hope that the latest findings mean that
diabetes will be added to the list of nine other diseases for which
Vietnam veterans are eligible for disability compensation.
The list currently includes chloracne, Hodgkin's disease, multiple
myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, porphyria cutanea tarda, respiratory
cancers, soft tissue sarcoma, peripheral neuropathy and prostate
The air force scientists first reported a link between diabetes and
dioxin in 1991 but did not announce it formally until now because the
results were "unexpected" and the researchers felt they needed further
analysis, Michalek said.
The air force study tracks 1,000 participants in the air force's
Operation Ranch Hand, which dumped 19 million gallons of Agent Orange
over Vietnam between 1962 and 1971 to defoliate jungle that Viet Cong
and North Vietnamese forces used as cover.
The Ranch Hand participants, who have undergone physical examinations
every five years since 1982, were compared to a control group
consisting of pilots and ground crews who served in Vietnam but not in
the aerial spraying program.
Besides diabetes, the study also found mixed evidence suggesting a
link between dioxin exposure and heart disease, Michalek said.
It said were 26 percent more likely to develop heart disease than the
control group. For flyers, the risk of heart disease was more than
double. But for ground crews, who had the highest dioxin levels, there
was no significant increase in risk.
The air force study also found a "statistically significant increase
in neurological disease" in Ranch Hand participants, and that
peripheral disorders increased as levels of dioxin increased.
Consistent and significant increases in cholesterol, triglicerides and
cholesterol-HDL ratios among Ranch Hand participants were found.
The study found increases in certain liver enzymes, but "no evidence
of a corresponding increase in overt liver disease."
Although one of the largest studies of human exposure to dioxin, the
air force survey includes too few people to detect increases in rare
It has found no evidence of an increased risk of cancer among Ranch
Hand veterans after 15 years, Michalek said.
In fact, among Ranch Hand ground crew members with the highest levels
of dioxin exposure the study is showing a 22 percent decreased risk of
But Michalek said he expects the incidence of cancer to come into
clearer focus in coming years as the veterans enter ages in which
the disease is more prevalent.