Research/studies Cancer Military

Agent Orange exposure may increase skin cancer risk among Vietnam vets: study

Houston – Vietnam War veterans who were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange may have an increased risk of developing skin cancer, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The Department of Veterans Affairs already recognizes Agent Orange – an herbicide widely used during the Vietnam War to make leaves fall off trees – as carcinogenic and provides compensation for several cancers related to exposure to it, but not for skin cancer.

In a study of 100 men in the Agent Orange Registry at the Veterans Affairs Hospital of Washington, DC, 51 percent were found to have non-melanotic invasive skin cancer. The incidence was double what would be expected in the general population, according to a press release from Wolters Kluwer Health, which published the study.

The risk of skin cancer was especially high – 73 percent – for veterans who had sprayed Agent Orange as opposed to simply working in an area treated with the herbicide. The risk also was higher among veterans with chloracne, a skin condition linked to toxic compounds such as those found in Agent Orange.

The study was published in the February issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.