Researchers Link Agent Orange to Prostate Cancer

U.S. researchers say they found a link between the herbicide Agent Orange used heavily during the Vietnam War and aggressive prostate cancer.

Dr. Mark Garzotto of the Portland Veterans Administration Medical Center and Oregon Health & Science University said prior research suggested exposure to Agent Orange might increase men's risk of developing prostate cancer, but it was unclear whether it specifically increased their risk of developing the lethal form of the disease.

"This is an important distinction as the majority of prostate cancer cases are non-lethal and thus do not necessarily require detection or therapy," Garzotto said in a statement. "Having a means of specifically detecting life-threatening cancer would improve the effectiveness of screening and treatment of prostate cancer."

Nathan Ansbaugh designed and conducted analyses on a group of 2,720 U.S. veterans referred by multiple providers for initial prostate biopsy.

Biopsy results and clinical information were compiled for analysis by Garzotto.

The study, published online ahead of the print edition of the journal Cancer, found Agent Orange exposure was linked with a 52 percent increase in overall risk of prostate cancer detection by biopsy. Exposure to the herbicide did not confer an increase in risk of low-grade prostate cancer, but it was linked with a 75 percent increase in risk of the aggressive prostate cancer, the study said.

In addition, Agent Orange exposure was associated with more than a two-fold increase in the most lethal cancers.

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