Vietnam Defoliant Tied to Thyroid Disease

BUFFALO, N.Y., June 28 (UPI) — The use of the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War has been linked to the Graves’ disease, a thyroid disorder, in Vietnam veterans, a study says.

Graves’ disease is associated with overactivity of the thyroid gland, which produces hormones critical for regulating mood, weight, and mental and physical energy levels, a University of Buffalo release said Monday.

“Our findings show that Vietnam veterans who came in contact with Agent Orange are more likely to develop Graves’ disease than those who avoided exposure,” says study author Dr. Ajay Varanasi, an endocrinologist in the UB Department of Medicine.

“(Graves’ disease) was three times more prevalent among veterans who encountered the dioxin-containing chemical,” Varanasi said.

Agent Orange is a defoliant used in Vietnam to destroy crops and reduce jungle foliage that could shelter enemy combatants. The herbicide contains dioxin, which has chemical properties similar to the thyroid hormones, the UB release said.

Dioxin has a known effect on the immune system, Varanasi said, and he recommended further research on the increased prevalence of Graves’ disease in Vietnam veterans.

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