9 June 2008
Agent Orange Exposure Doubles Prostate Cancer Risk
by George Atkinson
Researchers presenting their findings at the American Urological Association's Annual Meeting say there is a definite correlation between Agent Orange exposure and prostate cancer risk for Vietnam vets. Lead researcher Dr. Karim Chamie said that the new analysis was based on 17,000 veterans who received care via the Northern California VA system. The size of the study is important, adds Chamie, as earlier studies were discounted because of perceived low subject numbers.
With over 8 million Vietnam era veterans, many of who are now in their sixth decade, the findings come at an important time. During the Vietnam War, some 20 million gallons of the herbicide Agent Orange were released into the jungles of South Vietnam. One of Agent Orange's components is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TTCD). It is believed that TTCD, a dioxin, is the culprit behind the cancers.
In the new study, Chamie and colleagues re-examined clinical data from 6,214 vets who were exposed to Agent Orange and 6,930 who had no documented exposure. They found that the exposed veterans were more likely to develop prostate cancer (239 vs 124 men) and that the cancer struck at an earlier age (59.7 vs 62.2 years). Additionally, it was found that vets exposed to Agent Orange were more likely to present with metastases (13.4 percent vs 4.0 percent). Chamie said the study's importance could not be overstated and that patients with a history of Agent Orange exposure should be screened earlier for prostate cancer.
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