BUFFALO, N.Y. — Vietnam War-era veterans exposed to Agent Orange appear to have significantly more Graves’ disease, a thyroid disorder, than veterans with no exposure, a new study by endocrinologists at the University at Buffalo has shown.
Ajay Varanasi, MD, an endocrinology fellow in the UB Department of Medicine and first author on the study, garnered first prize in the oral presentation category for this research at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists annual meeting held in Boston in April.
“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 Varanasi.
“The autoimmune disorder was three times more prevalent among veterans who encountered the dioxin-containing chemical. We also looked at other thyroid diagnoses, but we didn’t find any significant differences in thyroid cancer or nodules.”
Agent Orange is a defoliant that was 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.