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Research finds new diseases linked to Agent Orange exposure

The list of presumptive diseases linked to Agent Orange exposure may soon contain additions if researchers have their way.

Department of Veterans Affairs benefits for Vietnam veterans are the focus of adding diseases such as hypertension to the list.

About Agent Orange

The U.S. military used a herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War that included Agent Orange, a herbicide and defoliant chemical. Disability compensation is among the benefits for which people exposed to Agent Orange may be eligible.

Disease news

In November 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reported that there is now sufficient evidence to link both hypertension and a condition known as MGUS to Agent Orange exposure. A common name for hypertension is high blood pressure. MGUS is monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. This refers to an abnormal protein in the blood that can lead to serious disorders such as blood cancer. Congress requires Agent Orange updates from the National Academies every two years. In the previous report, the agency recommended the addition of bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like tremors and hypothyroidism to the list of diseases related to Agent Orange exposure from the Vietnam War.

Awaiting word

The recommendations about the newest presumptive diseases have been added to those provided to Congress in the agency’s 2016 report. All are awaiting approval in the Office of Management and Budget, but due to political red tape, approval, if it comes, will likely happen later than sooner.

How veterans fare

Approval would boost the chances of Vietnam veterans with hypertension or MGUS to receive disability benefits resulting from their exposure to Agent Orange during their military service. However, physicians must successfully identify and diagnose the issues, and then connect them to the exposure that occurred during the veterans' deployment during the Vietnam War.

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