Vets Exposed to Agent Orange at Higher Risk of Skin Cancer

06 Feb 2014

Vietnam veterans, who were exposed to the dangerous chemical Agent Orange, have been found to have a much higher risk for several types of medical conditions and diseases. New research also indicates to California veterans’ disability benefits lawyers a higher risk of skin cancer for these veterans.

The findings of the study were published recently in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The researchers, as part of their study, reviewed medical report records of 100 veterans at the Veterans Affairs Hospital of Washington DC. Approximately 56% of the men had lived or worked in areas contaminated by Agent Orange, while 30% had been involved in the actual spraying of the chemical, and 14% had travelled in areas contaminated by the chemical.

For purposes of the study, the research only focused on men with lighter skin types. They found that the rate of nonmelanoma invasive skin cancer was 51% among veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. That is approximately twice as high as the skin cancer risk among men of the same age in the general civilian population. Men who were involved in the spraying of the chemical seemed to have the highest risk of skin cancer. Among these men, the risk was 73%. The risk was also highest among men with light eyes and lightest skin.

Apart from skin cancer, these men also showed a much higher susceptibility to other types of skin conditions. For example, 43% of the men, the researchers found, had developed a skin condition called chloracne. This condition typically develops after exposure to dioxins. When the men had this condition, they all seemed to also have a much higher risk of skin cancer, with a rate of 80%.