Alzhimer's and Agent Orange Vietnam

by Dorian Martin Patient Advocate

Question

Asked by Debra

How can you be sure that there is a connection with the agent orange spraying? My father has prostate cancer and his mental health has declined dramatically and the doctors did a bran scan in June 09 said everything was normal. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer 4+4 and X-rayed all over his body. Results came back as not spreading. Then in August he started with Alzhimer's. He had to be hospitalized and is now in diapers. How can the two not be connected?

There is no family history of prostate cancer or Alzhimer's dementia in the family. My father had three brothers, two living and one died at 68 from heart attack and one sister living. They are all in their late 70 no health problems except high blood pressure.

Answer

Hi, Debra,

The only thing that we have to go on is the latest research. Thus far, little linkage has been identified. I wrote this reply to an earlier post about Agent Orange and thought it might be helpful for you:

"I did a quick search and came up with this book entitled, "Veterans and Agent Orange", which was published by The National Academies Press. The authors write, "An update of the Air Force Health Study (AFHS), which looked at cognitive effects on people involved in the aerial spraying of Agent Orange (the Ranch Hands) has been published, as has a study of cognitive effects on Czech workers exposed to TCDD during the production of 2,4,5-T. A case-;control study of possible factors contributing to Alzheimer's disease, including pesticides, has also been published. Inconsistent effects on cognitive endpoints were seen in the AFHS and the Czech study. No significant relationship was seen between exposure to pesticides and Alzheimer's disease."

This initial report was published in 1994, but A 2008 update also is available on line which states: "The authoring committee found suggestive but limited evidence that exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War is associated with an increased chance of developing ischemic heart disease and Parkinson's disease for Vietnam veterans." However, the report doesn't seem to mention anything about Alzheimer's, at this point.

Perhaps the men who served in Vietnam and were exposed to Agent Orange are just reaching the ages when Alzheimer's will begin to show itself. Therefore, additional research could be helpful to see if there is some sort of linkage.

Take care!

Dorian

Dorian Martin
Meet Our Writer
Dorian Martin

Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.