Agent Orange May Cause Hypertension

Associated Press
Saturday, July 28, 2007

Exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam may lead to high blood pressure in some veterans, but the evidence is limited and only suggestive, the Institute of Medicine said Friday.

The institute, an arm of the National Academies, has been studying the effects of the herbicide on veterans since the early 1990s and issued its seventh update.

Two recent studies of Vietnam veterans who handled Agent Orange and other defoliants indicated that they have higher rates of high blood pressure, the report said.

Hypertension affects more than 70 million American adults and is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

The new findings are consistent with those of other studies that looked at the health effects of herbicides. However, a new environmental study and an earlier study of workers in an herbicide manufacturing plant did not find evidence of an association between herbicide or dioxin exposure and increased high blood pressure.

Because of the inconsistent results, the institute said the evidence suggests that exposure to the herbicide leads to high blood pressure but it is insufficient to make that conclusion with certainty.

The update also said there is suggestive but limited evidence that AL amyloidosis, a rare blood condition, is associated with herbicide exposure.

AL amyloidosis, which affects one person in 100,000, is characterized by the accumulation of protein deposits in and around organs.

The update said AL amyloidosis shares many biological and pathological similarities with multiple myeloma and certain B-cell lymphomas, which have been found to be associated with exposure to herbicides.

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