Agent Orange Exposure Doubles Risk Of Developing Dementia Study Finds
A new study of more than 300,000 Vietnam-era U.S. veterans has found that those who were exposed to Agent Orange are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia as those who were not.
The new finding, , is among the most substantial to date linking cognitive decline with chemicals used for defoliation during the Vietnam War.
For the study, researchers at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Health Care System examined the medical records of thousands of veterans and found a two-fold risk of dementia for those whose medical records indicated evidence of exposure.
According to Deborah Barnes, a researcher with the University of California San Francisco and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the study authors found that, over the course of time, 5% of veterans with a documented exposure to Agent Orange were diagnosed with dementia compared with 2.5% of vets with no known exposure.
“Even though the absolute rates … are low, these veterans were still relatively young, so if the risk holds, we would expect that to increase as they age,” Barnes said in an interview with JAMA Neurology.
The research also discovered that the exposed vets were diagnosed an average of 15 months earlier than non-exposed veterans — a finding that can have a huge impact on former personnel, their families and society as a whole, Barnes said.
Update Of The Epidemiologic Literature
Vietnam-Veteran and Case-Control Studies
Since Update 2012, no new Vietnam-veteran, occupational, or case-control studies have been published concerning cognitive or neuropsychiatric disorders and exposure to the COIs.
Since the previous update, Bouchard et al. examined the cross-sectional association between serum PCB concentrations and cognitive function in 708 adults ranging in age from 60 to 84 who participated in the 19992000 or 20012002 iterations of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey . Analyses were limited to the 12 of the 23 PCB congeners measured that were detected in at least 75 percent of the subjects among these, the dioxin-like compounds were two of the mono-ortho PCBs 118 and 156 and the relatively less potent non-ortho PCBs 126 and 169. Cognitive function was
Suggested Citation:Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2014
assessed, in a limited fashion, with the Digit-Symbol Coding Test . Neither dioxin-like nor nondioxin-like PCB concentrations were associated with cognitive scores of concern . The authors observed a significant interaction between age and serum concentrations of dioxin-like PCB congeners in the older group , for whom a 100 ng/g increase in serum concentration of dioxin-like PCBs was associated with a 2.65 point lower cognitive score .
Other Recent Literature
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Navigating the Veterans Affairs bureaucracy is notoriously difficult. Many veterans find it extremely challenging just to get the benefits to which they are entitled by law. Initial claims are often wrongly denied. Thats why its important to seek an experienced attorney with Veterans Affairs claims.
If youre suffering from Agent Orange exposure symptoms or have any health condition you believe to be service-connected, a properly documented and filed claim can be life-changing once benefits are granted to veterans and their families.
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Agent Orange Exposure And Health Conditions: Presumptive Service Connection
Agent Orange is one of the several herbicides, often known as rainbow herbicides, that was used by the United States during the Vietnam War era. Agent Orange is composed of a mixture of two kinds of herbicide agents, 2, 4-D and 2, 4, 5-T. The highly toxic dioxin contaminant known as 2, 3, 7, 8-TCDD is a byproduct that is produced by Agent Orange. This toxic dioxin contaminant has caused many serious health conditions in Vietnam War Veterans.
The Agent Orange Act of 1991 established a presumption of service connection, meaning that VA must recognize that veterans who served in specific locations at specific time periods were exposed to Agent Orange. The presumptive service connection list includes the following locations and time-periods:
- Boots-on-the-ground in Vietnam, veterans with service aboard a ship that operated in the inland waterways of Vietnam , or veterans with service aboard a ship in Vietnams territorial seas between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975
- On or near the Korean demilitarized zone between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971
- Active duty and reservist personnel who had regular contact with C-123 aircraft between 1969 and 1986
- AL Amyloidosis
- Bladder Cancer
- Chronic B-Cell Leukemia
- Hodgkins Disease
- Ischemic Heart Disease
- Multiple Myeloma
- Parkinsons Disease
- Parkinsons-like symptoms
- Peripheral Neuropathy, Early Onset
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
- Prostate Cancer
- Respiratory Cancers, including Lung Cancer
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas
Us Veterans Exposed To Agent Orange Twice As Likely To Have Dementia: Study
For the study, which concluded in October 2020 and was published on Monday in JAMA Neurology, over 300,000 veterans were examined.
Scientists at the University of California and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Health Care System found that exposure to Agent Orange, based on medical records, made them nearly twice as likely to suffer from dementia even after adjusting for medical and psychiatric comorbidities and other variables, the study said.
Five percent of veterans with documented exposure to Agent Orange were diagnosed with dementia, compared to 2.5 percent when there was no known exposure, Deborah Barnes, a researcher at the University of California San Francisco, said.
While additional studies are needed to find the association between Agent Orange exposure and dementia, dioxin, one of the main ingredients of Agent Orange, is known to be stored in fat tissue for a long time.
The chemical might have been slowly released over time and caused toxic effects on the brain, and Agent Orange also increases the risks of other disorders known to be risk factors in causing dementia, Barnes said.
Meanwhile, a French court on Monday heard a case filed by French-Vietnamese journalist and activist Tran To Nga against more than a dozen multinationals accusing them of being responsible for the harmful effects of Agent Orange on her, her children and many others.
“I’m not fighting for myself, but for my children and the millions of victims,” AFP quoted her as saying.
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Will Dementia Be Added To The List Of Presumptive Conditions
The process for adding conditions to the list of presumptive can often take many years and much debate. The Agent Orange Act of 1991 stipulates that VAs Secretary is required to contract with the Institute of Medicine . Every two years, at minimum, the IOM is to submit a report that analyzes the link between herbicides used during service and certain health conditions. The IOM uses data from VA medical exams and treatment provided to Vietnam Veterans who sought treatment after 1981 for Agent Orange exposure.
The IOM is tasked with determining whether there is statistical evidence that supports the link between exposure to herbicides and a specific disease. The VA Secretary can then determine that a positive association exists, if this is the case, and that presumptive service connection is warranted.
In past instances, Congress has pressured VA to add conditions to the list. Specifically, in January of 2020, VA Secretary Wilkie reported significant concerns and limitations with several IOM studies concluding that there is suggestive or sufficient evidence linking bladder cancer to Agent Orange exposure. By March of 2020, a bill was introduced in response to the VAs ongoing delays to add bladder cancer to the list of presumptive conditions. Finally, the 2021 NDAA was passed by Congress and determined by statute that the condition be added to the list.
What Evidence Will I Need To Submit With My Claim
You’ll need to submit these records:
- A medical record that shows you have an Agent Orangerelated illness, and
- Military records to show how you were exposed to Agent Orange during your service
If your illness isn’t on the list of presumptive diseases, youll also need to provide at least one of these types of evidence:
- Evidence that shows the problem started duringor got worse because ofyour military service, or
- Scientific or medical evidence stating that the illness you have is caused by Agent Orange. Scientific proof may include an article from a medical journal or a published research study.
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Agent Orange Presumptive Benefits And Conditions
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has classified these Agent Orange-related diseases as presumptive. If you served in the military in Vietnam or on the Korean DMZ between specific dates of Vietnam Era, or you are otherwise known to have been exposed to the defoliant during your military service, and you are diagnosed with certain health problems, the VA will presume that your condition has service connection.
This makes it much easier to qualify for both VA health care and disability compensation. If you are an eligible veteran , you dont have to prove that Agent Orange caused your condition or made it worse.
Does Agent Orange Lead To Dementia And Cancer
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Does Agent Orange Lead To Dementia And Cancer?
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Agent Orange Registry Health Exam
Eligible veterans can receive anAgent Orange Registry Health Exam, free of charge. There is no obligation to do so. However,veterans who qualify and participate in this program receive a free medical exam, lab tests, and free referrals to medical specialists if appropriate. Participation is voluntary.
Your Agent Orange Registry Health Exam will include:
- A physical exam
- Any necessary blood test, x-rays, imaging, or other tests and procedures
- History of known or suspected exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides
- Your health history
You do not have to enroll in the VA health care system to receive a registry health exam.
You do not have to submit to an Agent Orange Registry Health Exam to receive other VA benefits.
If you do have an Agent Orange-related disability or health condition, you may receive free health care for those conditions through the Veterans Administration. To receive care, you must enroll in the VA health care system.
In some cases, you may be referred to one of the VAs threeWar Related Illness and Injury Study Center facilities Washington, D.C., East Orange, NJ, and Palo Alto, CA. These three centers assist veterans with deployment health concerns and difficult diagnoses.
Can Offspring Be Affected By Agent Orange
The children of Vietnam veterans and occasionally even their grandchildren have also dealt with significant health problems from Agent Orange exposure as well. Birth defects such as neural tube defects are the most common effects of Agent Orange in the second generation exposed to Agent Orange. Thats the bad news.
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Is There A Link Between Agent Orange And Alzheimers Disease
A connection between Agent Orange and Alzheimers disease has caused a great deal of discussion. Almost 50 years after the last American troops left Vietnam, researchers are still struggling to understand the link between the defoliant Agent Orange and serious illness. The link between Agent Orange and neurological problems is particularly difficult to identify.
Between 1961 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange on the jungles of Vietnam. The idea was to deprive the enemy of cover. But like most other forms of chemical warfare, the spraying had some unintended consequences. Agent Orange contained traces of dioxin, one of the most powerful and most harmful chemicals known to man. As a result, many veterans exposed to Agent Orange came home with serious illnesses. In most cases, these illnesses did not manifest for several years, or even several decades, after the veterans returned stateside.
Dioxin, much like cigarette smoke and other toxins, alters cellular genetic makeup. Some of these effects are known. For example, altered cells replicate quickly, often forming malignant tumors. Other effects are unknown, especially the link between Agent Orange and dementia-like conditions.
Making Your Claim for Compensation
- Heightened awareness,
- Nightmares, and
Veterans Disability Matters and Aggravating Conditions
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One Veteran Goes Back To Vietnam
Larry Vetter, a Marine platoon leader during the Vietnam War, hopes and believes Kerry will discuss Agent Orange at one point or another during this trip.
Vetter, who returned to Vietnam for the first time eight years ago to reconnect with his past, stayed in Vietnam and subsequently joined the Da Nang Association for Victims of Agent Orange /Dioxin, which assists more than 5,000 Agent Orange victims in Da Nang.
It would be a dream come true if the president and/or the secretary of state, a war vet himself, could make a stop in Da Nang and get a tour of the site at the old U.S. Air Force base, now the Da Nang International Airport, he said.
Vetter said he is a firm believer in the goodness of the American people, but they just do not know what happened here. Agent Orange was a horrible creation to use in warfare. It was no less than chemical warfare, the type of weapon we condemn others for using.
Vetter said he hopes and prays that American leadership can realize what really happened in Vietnam.
Its time for reconciliation and cooperation between both countries and peoples, he said.
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Is Kidney Disease A Disability
You typically need to meet or exceed at least one of the criteria to qualify for disability benefits. In the Blue Book, kidney disease can be found under Genitourinary Disorders in Section 6.00. For your kidney disease to be considered a disability by the SSA, at least one of the following statements must be true: 1.
Your Monthly Compensation Depends On Your Disability Rating
The amount you will receive each month depends on your VA impairment rating. The more convinced VA is that your condition is severe, the higher the impairment rating you will receive. Higher ratings correspond to greater monthly compensation.
For Alzheimers and other cognitive disorders, you will receive a rating of 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100 percent. VA determines your rating using the following Federal Code of Regulations criteria:
Here is the monthly compensation you can expect at each rating as of 2019 for a single veteran with no dependents:
- 0 percent rating: $0 per month
- 10 percent rating: $142.29 per month
- 30 percent rating: $435.69 per month
- 50 percent rating: $893.43 per month
- 70 percent rating: $1,426.17 per month
- 100 percent rating: $3,106.04 per month
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Military Risk Factors For Cognitive Decline Dementia And Alzheimers Disease
Volume 10 , Issue 9 , 2013
Page: Pages: 24
Delayed neurological health consequences of environmental exposures during military service have been generallyunderappreciated. The rapidly expanding understanding of Alzheimers disease pathogenesis now makes itpossible to quantitate some of the likely long-term health risks associated with military service. Military risk factors forAD include both factors elevated in military personnel such as tobacco use, traumatic brain injury , depression, andpost-traumatic stress disorder and other nonspecific risk factors for AD including, vascular risk factors such asobesity and obesity-related diseases , education and physical fitness. The degree of combat exposure,Vietnam era Agent Orange exposure and Gulf War Illness may also influence risk for AD. Using available data onthe association of AD and specific exposures and risk factors, the authors have conservatively estimated 423,000 newcases of AD in veterans by 2020, including 140,000 excess cases associated with specific military exposures. The cost associatedwith these excess cases is approximately $5.8 billion to $7.8 billion. Mitigation of the potential impact of militaryexposures on the cognitive function of veterans and management of modifiable risk factors through specifically designedprograms will be instrumental in minimizing the impact of AD in veterans in the future decades.
Title:Military Risk Factors for Cognitive Decline, Dementia and Alzheimers Disease
What Is Agent Orange
Agent Orange is a herbicide originating during the Vietnam War between North Vietnam, with the help of the Viet Cong, and South Vietnam, with the United States as an ally. Although the United States military knew the herbicide exposure could be harmful to enemy troops, it wasnt aware that it could potentially harm each Vietnam War veteran that came in contact with it, too.
However, just short-term exposure of dioxin, a toxic chemical and byproduct of Agent Orange, can cause health problems like type 2 diabetes, hormone disruption, and peripheral neuropathy. The herbicide is also connected to some congenital disabilities in children of Vietnam veterans, including spina bifida, heart defects, cleft palate, and cleft lip.
Since the late 1970s, Vietnam veteran groups have fought to seek compensation for Agent Orange victims. Many conditions the United States Department of Veterans Affairs connects to Agent Orange exposure may qualify for VA benefits. The VA will often pay out VA disability benefits to victims of dioxin exposure under a presumptive service connection as part of the Agent Orange Act of 1991.
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