Positive steps seem to be taken in 1979 federal authorities acknowledged a possible problem, it offered special access to health care and started a multitude of studies by starting Agent Orange Registry Examination Program. In 1991 the VA Directed the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reviewed 6,000 abstracts of scientific or medical articles and analyzed 230 long term studies, in July of 1993 in its initial report which led to presumptive service connection for several health problems among veterans (8 ).
This view (of the VA) changed when an employee leaked a medical report from the V.A.. This report had been suppressed at the highest levels of the V.A. It showed unexplained deaths from non Hodgkins lymphoma a rare type of cancer of Marines who served in Vietnam. Marines who served in Vietnam had a fifty percent higher of Lung Cancer and 110 percent higher level of non Hodgkins lymphomas. This report came eight years after official denial that use of Agent Orange had caused an increase of cancer. At least nine reports that the VA had intended never see the light of day had been done (9 ).
2009 researched found that Veterans who had been exposed to Agent Orange are at a 50% increased risk for an aggressive recurrence of prostate cancer, even though their Cancer appears non aggressive at the time of Surgery (10 ).
Finally after a long (2001) hard battle government scientist from National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), concluded Agent Orange exposure did cause Cancer. In 2001 the added Dioxin to the list of chemicals that are "known to be human carcinogens.". It had been listed as "reasonably anticipated" to cause cancer since 1981. The new listing said over the past 20 years numerous studies have "demonstrated statistically significant increases in relative risks for all cancers combined, lung cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma"(11 ).
The VA is expected to rule later this year (2010) on if they can claim three diseases are tied to Agent Orange exposure. The three are Parkinson's disease, B cell leukemia and ischemic heart (12 ).
The addition of these will bring the number up to 15 diseases that exposure to Agent Orange is "presumed" to cause (13 ).
What has been the impact in the theater of operations?
Around 300,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese had been exposed to significant levels of Dioxin. They were exposed to it though the air they breathed, the water they bathed in and the food they ate. When the Americans returned "stateside" many suffered from a variety of illnesses cancer, liver and kidney malfunctions, skin problems, vision and hearing impairments and degenerative nerve diseases, many had a premature death. Their families had been effected too their wives had a high level of miscarriages. Their children had birth defects , spina bifida, missing or deformed limbs, partial brains, cleft palates (14 ).
There are an estimated one million first and second generation agent orange victims living in Vietnam. Fifty thousand deformed child have been born to parents who were exposed to agent orange(15 ).
Vietnam says three million of its four million people of its people have birth defects or other health problems related to Dioxin (16 ).
Independent Doctors from United States, Canada, West Germany and Britain tested Vietnamese women breast milk for Dioxin. Eighty percent of the women in South Vietnam tested positive. Only one in twenty women in north Vietnam tested positive. Infant mortality is high in south Vietnam also birth defects, spontaneous abortion rates, hydatidiform moles, a fetal malformation. Liver cancer rates are astronomical, and soft tissue cancer, lymphoma and lung cancer have increased. Doctors also note that women who didn't come in contact with agent Orange, but their husbands who fought in sprayed areas also gave birth to children with major birth defects (17 ).