Agent Orange Linked to Skin Cancer Risk

Decades Later, High Rates of Non-Melanoma Invasive Skin Cancer in Exposed Vietnam Veterans

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL, Jan 28, 2014 (Menafn – Marketwired via COMTEX) –Vietnam War veterans exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange appear tobe at high risk for certain types of skin cancer, suggests a report in the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons(ASPS).

The study adds to previous evidence that risk of non-melanoticinvasive skin cancer (NMISC) is increased even four decades after Agent Orange exposure, with at least some exposed veterans having unusually aggressive non-melanoma skin cancers. The lead author was ASPS Member Surgeon Dr. Mark W. Clemens of The University of Texas MDAnderson Cancer Center and colleagues.

Skin Cancers Present in About Half of Vets Exposed to Agent Orange

During the Vietnam War, Agent Orange was widely used as herbicide and jungle defoliant. It has been linked to a wide range of cancers and other diseases, caused by the highly toxic dioxin contaminant TCDD. “TCDD is among the most carcinogenic compounds ever to undergo widespread use in the environment,” according to Dr. Clemens and coauthors.

The researchers analyzed medical records of 100 consecutive men who enrolled in the Agent Orange registry at the Veterans Affairs Hospital of Washington, DC, between August 2009 and January 2010. Exposure to TCDD consisted of living or working in contaminated areas for 56 percent of veterans, actively spraying Agent Orange in 30 percent, and traveling in contaminated areas for 14 percent. The study was limited to men with lighter skin types.

The rate of NMISC in TCDD-exposed veterans was 51 percent — about twice as high as the rate expected in men of similar age group. The risk of skin cancer increased to 73 percent for veterans who actively sprayed Agent Orange. Exposed men with the lightest skin types and those with lighter eyes were also at higher risk.

Forty-three percent of the veterans had chloracne, a skin condition specifically caused by exposure to dioxins. For this group, the rate of NMISC was more than 80 percent.

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