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Agent Orange Exposure Linked to Graves’ Disease

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Advocate for the Disabled
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June 9, 2010 - More than 30 years after the end of the Vietnam War we are still finding new health issues presenting themselves in veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange and other defoliants. A new study at the University of Buffalo has shown those veterans exposed to Agent Orange reflect an appreciably higher rate of Graves' disease, which is a disorder of the thyroid.

Agent Orange contains the chemical dioxin. Dioxin's chemical construction includes properties comparable to thyroid hormones. Those veterans who came in contact with Agent Orange are 3 times more likely to develop the autoimmune disorder. Researchers compared Graves' disease to other thyroid diagnoses but found no noteworthy differences in either nodules or thyroid cancer.

Graves' disease is symptomatic of an overactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland controls a body's metabolism. Therefore, the gland is responsible for regulating:

  • Mood;
  • Weight;
  • Mental levels; and
  • Physical energy levels.

Researchers used the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) electronic medical record database for upstate New York. Veterans were then broken into two groups: those veterans who claimed exposure to Agent Orange (23,939 veterans) and those not exposed (200,109 veterans). With Graves' disease being the only significant difference between the two groups, it was puzzling to find the exposed group having less common occurrences of hypothyroidism, which is when a thyroid functions are lower than normal levels.

Given what we know about the physical effects dioxin can inflict on a person's immune system, more research should be done in this area.

Category: Veterans' Disability

1 Comments to "Agent Orange Exposure Linked to Graves’ Disease"

I find it hard to understand how VA considers Graves' Disease (an autoimmune disease) on the Agent Orange list of covered diseases when there are many autoimmune diseases.
I realize that you can't just list all autoimmune diseases as a covered illness, but why not take a look at some of the individual diseases.
My husband is a Vietnam vet and soon after coming home he began having symptoms of severe leg and feet pain. After several doctors and tests, we realized that he had Rheumatoid Arthritis. The RA has caused several other autoimmune diseases, e.g., Felty's Syndrome, Sjogrens Syndrome. The disease has affected his lungs several times.
He is on VA disability for hearing loss due to firing a weapon and Diabetes II from exposure to Agent Orange.
My concern is that the VA break down the connective tissue diseases or autoimmune diseases individually for research to see if there is any connection between certain autoimmune diseases and Agent Orange.
My husband has now had to retire due to these illnesses, and is mostly confined to our apartment. He was a pastor for over twenty years and had to retire on Social Security Disability for the above named conditions.
Posted by Patti Smith on July 18, 2010 at 07:59 AM

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