You are here: Home Blog 2010 July 01 Agent Orange Linked to Prostate Cancer

Agent Orange Linked to Prostate Cancer

by aseligmann — last modified Jul 01, 2010 12:00 AM

Agent Orange has been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer in Vietnam veterans. In a study of more than 13,000 male veterans, those who were exposed to Agent Orange were twice as likely to have prostate cancer as those who were not exposed.


Agent Orange has been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer in Vietnam veterans. In a study of more than 13,000 male veterans, those who were exposed to Agent Orange were twice as likely to have prostate cancer as those who were not exposed.

The Agent Orange-exposed veterans also fared worse in other respects: They were diagnosed with prostate cancer at a younger age, were twice as likely to develop an aggressive form of the cancer, and were three times more likely to have cancer that had already spread (metastasized) by the time they saw the doctor.

Researchers considered individual factors that might affect prostate cancer risk including the known risks of African-American heritage or family history of this cancer. They concluded that Agent Orange exposure stood out as an independent risk factor and called for the medical community to increase screening for these men.

This study was notable as being the largest study of Agent Orange and prostate cancer. The veterans, entering their 60s, were reaching the age when prostate cancer typically develops. The availability of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screening greatly enhanced diagnosis and tracking of this cancer. The researchers examined medical records of men enrolled in the VA Northern California Health Care System who were followed between 1998 and 2006.

Agent Orange was the most widely used herbicide in the Vietnam war, with more than 19 million pounds applied over forests and fields of Vietnam between 1962 and 1971. Exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to several kinds of cancer — Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, soft tissue sarcomas, and now prostate cancer.

Agent Orange — a 50:50 mixture of the herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T — was contaminated with the toxic chemical TCDD. Popularly known as "dioxin," TCDD (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin) is now classified as a chemical that is known to cause cancer in humans.

 


SOURCES:

News Release: Exposure to Agent Orange linked to prostate cancer in Vietnam veterans University of California Davis Health System. August 5, 2008

Study: Agent Orange exposure, Vietnam war veterans, and the risk of prostate cancer. Chamie, K et. al. 2008. Published online August 2008 in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com): DOI 10.1002/cncr.23695 Scheduled to be published in the Sept.15, 2008 issue of Cancer.

Details on TCDD: 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) IN: Report on Carcinogens. 11th Edition. US Dept of Health and Human Services. National Toxicology Program. 2005

NEWS STORY:

Vietnam vets face dangers decades later.
Cone, M. Environmental Health News, September 15, 2008. ["dioxins" should read "dioxin" throughout]


FOOTNOTE:

The herbicide 2,4,5-T, one component of Agent Orange, contained varying levels of the contaminant TCDD. Herbicides containing 2,4,5-T and the related 2,4,5-TP (Silvex) were widely used in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s on forests, pastures and other areas.

In the 1970s, forestry herbicide spraying was the issue that touched off the formation of the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides. Getting 2,4,5-T banned quickly became a primary focus. In 1979, the Environnmental Protection Agency ordered an "emergency suspension" of some uses, stating:

"Acting on significant new evidence linking the herbicide 2,4,5-T with miscarriages in women in Oregon, the Environmental Protection Agency today halted major uses of the herbicide until a full review of its impact on human health and its benefits is completed.... This alarming correlation comes at a time when 7 million pounds of 2,4,5-T are about to be used to control weeds on power line rights-of-way and in pastures and to manage forest lands across the nation."

Through the efforts of NCAP and other activists, 2,4,5-T and Silvex were finally banned in 1985.