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Cancer

Agent Orange exposure and cancer incidence in Korean Vietnam veterans: a prospective cohort study.


PMID 25103108

Abstract

During the Vietnam War, US and allied military sprayed approximately 77 million liters of tactical herbicides including Agent Orange, contaminated with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. To the authors' knowledge, few studies to date have examined the association between Agent Orange exposure and cancer incidence among Korean veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. An Agent Orange exposure index, based on the proximity of the veteran's military unit to the area that was sprayed with Agent Orange, was developed using a geographic information system-based model. Cancer incidence was followed for 180,251 Vietnam veterans from 1992 through 2003. After adjustment for age and military rank, high exposure to Agent Orange was found to significantly increase the risk of all cancers combined (adjusted hazards ratio [aHR], 1.08). Risks for cancers of the mouth (aHR, 2.54), salivary glands (aHR, 6.96), stomach (aHR, 1.14), and small intestine (aHR, 2.30) were found to be significantly higher in the high-exposure group compared with the low-exposure group. Risks for cancers of all sites combined (aHR, 1.02) and for cancers of the salivary glands (aHR, 1.47), stomach (aHR, 1.03), small intestine (aHR, 1.24), and liver (aHR, 1.02) were elevated with a 1-unit increase in the exposure index. Exposure to Agent Orange several decades earlier may increase the risk of cancers in all sites combined, as well as several specific cancers, among Korean veterans of the Vietnam War, including some cancers that were not found to be clearly associated with exposure to Agent Orange in previous cohort studies primarily based on Western populations.