The Vietnam war is almost forty years behind us, but the effects still continue to haunt those that were called to serve to preserve American freedom. New research has revealed that Vietnam veterans are showing high rates of non-melanoma invasive skin cancer possibly a side-effect from exposure to agent orange. This study is published in the latest issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Agent Orange contained a highly toxic dioxic containment called TCDD that is estimated to have negatively affected at least 1.5 million Americans during the Vietnam war.

The link between Agent Orange exposure and skin cancer was first investigated in the 1980’s, but no substantial evidence was found. The Veterans Affairs organization does not currently recognize skin cancer as being a condition related Agent Orange. But it has been found that veterans are twice as likely to develop skin cancer.

Here’s what they found;

The researchers behind the new study analyzed the medical records of 100 consecutive Vietnam veterans who enrolled in the Agent Orange registry at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Washington, DC, between 2009 and 2010.

About 1.5 million Americans served in Vietnam during the most intense period of herbicide use.

Of this sample, 56% lived or worked in areas contaminated by Agent Orange, 30% were engaged in spraying Agent Orange and 14% were exposed to TCDD by traveling through contaminated areas.

Overall, 51% of the veterans in the study had non-melanoma invasive skin cancer (NMISC). This is a statistically significant figure – about twice as high as the average rate in men of a similar age. In the veterans who had actively sprayed Agent Orange, the risk of NMISC increased to 73%.

Another skin condition, chloracne, was observed in 43% of the veterans. The rate of NMISC among the veterans with chloracne was 80%. Veterans with lighter skin or eye color also had a higher risk of developing skin cancer.