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Culture: Impact of war on language (151).

Summary: Vietnam War & Health and Medicine (III). Agent Orange. About 3 million Americans served in the armed forces in Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s, the time of the Vietnam War. During that time, the military used large amounts of mixtures known as defoliants, which were chemicals that caused the leaves to fall off plants.

One of these defoliants was Agent Orange, and some troops were exposed to it. Many years later, questions remain about the lasting health effects of those exposures, including increases in cancer risk. In studies comparing Vietnam veterans with veterans who had served at the same time elsewhere, TCDD (dioxin) levels were found to be higher among those who had served in Vietnam, although these levels went down slowly over time.

Studies of Vietnam veterans potentially provide the most direct evidence of the health effects of Agent Orange exposure. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Air Force, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have conducted studies involving thousands of Vietnam veterans. However, most of these studies have been limited by the fairly small number of people who were highly exposed to Agent Orange. About a dozen states have also conducted studies of their veterans, some of which have yielded cancer risk information. A series of studies of Australian Vietnam veterans has also provided some information on cancer risk.

Since 1994, the federal government has directed the Institute of Medicine (IOM), part of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), to issue reports every 2 years on the health effects of Agent Orange and similar herbicides. Titled Veterans and Agent Orange, the IOM reports assess the risk of both cancer and non-cancer health effects. Each health effect is categorised as having one of the following: *sufficient evidence of an association *limited/suggestive evidence of an association *inadequate/insufficient evidence to determine whether an association exists *limited/suggestive evidence of no association This framework provides a basis for government policy decisions in the face of uncertainty.

Meanwhile, a study of the long-term health consequences of PTSD among Vietnam veterans on the VA Agent Orange Registry (DC), with Dr. Han Kang as principal investigator, examined the long-term health consequences of PTSD among Vietnam Veterans on the VA Agent Orange Registry (AOR). Vietnam Veterans who received a diagnosis of PTSD during their AOR exam were compared to Vietnam Veterans on the registry without a diagnosis of PTSD during the same exam.

Mortality data was analysed to determine the effects of a set of Vietnam service variables on the risk of dying from a specific cause. Morbidity data was analysed to evaluate the risk of specific health outcomes suspected of being associated with PTSD. Analyses was performed to investigate health care utilisation patterns, examining the frequency of visits, whether visits were inpatient or outpatient, the duration of inpatient visits, and the types of clinics or providers seen.

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Publication:The Egyptian Gazette (Cairo, Egypt)
Geographic Code:9VIET
Date:Jan 9, 2012
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