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December 1990

The Association of Selected Cancers With Service in the US Military in Vietnam

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(12):2449-2450. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390230009002

Since the end of the Vietnam War, much has been written and speculated about the health consequences of military service in that war. The Veterans Administration has convened several task forces and committees to discuss complaints and illnesses attributed to that service. Veteran's organizations have requested health studies. There have been discussion proposals for studies in both Houses of Congress. The issue of greatest concern has been the potential exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin found as a contaminant in the herbicide trichlorophenoxy acetic acid. The latter was one of the two components of agent orange. Agent Orange also contained 50% dichlorophenoxy acetic acid. Agent Orange was used officially as a defoliant in Vietnam from 1964 to 1970.

2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin was found in laboratory studies to be teratogenic and carcinogenic in rodents. Epidemiologic studies in Sweden have associated soft-tissue sarcomas, including malignant lymphoma, to exposure to phenoxy acids and chlorophenols.

In humans, the systemic