Agent Orange Update: Bladder Cancer & Hypothyroidism
- If you are a veteran or a family member of a veteran with bladder cancer or hypothyroidism; and
- You were exposed to Agent Orange or another of the rainbow herbicides in Vietnam, Korea, or elsewhere; then
You need to know about a new Agent Orange update just released by the Institute of Medicine. The newest data from the Institute of Medicine revealed stronger evidence of a link between bladder cancer and herbicide exposure.
The report seems to confirm what we have thought for quite a while now. After talking with a number of Vietnam veterans with bladder cancer, it seems way too coincidental for there not to be a link between these dangerous herbicides and the disease. The report had the same conclusion about hypothyroidism and its link to Agent Orange and the other rainbow herbicides.
About the 2014 Agent Orange Update
In passing the Agent Orange Act of 1991, Congress directed the Department of Veterans Affairs to commission a comprehensive review on the available scientific and medical information about the possible health effects of Agent Orange and other herbicides. The VA, through the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, has studied the issue and published a report every two years updating its findings.
The 2014 report, Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2014, reviewed scientific literature published between Oct. 1, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2014. VA release the 2014 update on March 10, 2016. This report is the tenth and final update to the study. Hopefully, Congress will legislate for more research on the topic to learn more in the future.
Stronger Evidence of Link Between Bladder Cancer and Herbicide Exposure
The 2014 Agent Orange Update reviewed the results of a study of Korean veterans who served in the Vietnam War. That study found compelling evidence suggestive of an association between bladder cancer and herbicides including Agent Orange. Based on this study and previous research on the topic, the committee publishing the report reclassified the herbicide-cancer link.
Previously, bladder cancer had been listed in the category of “inadequate or insufficient” evidence of an association between the disease and herbicide exposure. Now, bladder cancer has been moved to the category of “limited or suggestive” evidence based on this newest study. Per the Institute of Medicine’s press release, “A finding of limited or suggestive evidence of an association means that the epidemiologic evidence indicates there could be a link between exposure to a chemical and increased risk for a particular health effect. A finding of inadequate or insufficient evidence indicates that the available studies are of insufficient quality, consistency, or statistical power to permit a conclusion regarding the presence or absence of such a link.”
Stronger Evidence of Link Between Hypothyroidism and Herbicide Exposure
The 2014 Agent Orange Update also considered evidence of an association between hypothyroidism and herbicide exposure. The conclusions were essentially the same as those for bladder cancer. The committee upgraded the evidence from “inadequate or insufficient” to “limited or suggestive.”
What This Means for Your VA Claim for Bladder Cancer or Hypothyroidism
This is certainly good news for veterans exposed to Agent Orange who suffer from bladder cancer or hypothyroidism. However, the scientific evidence is not quite where we would like it to be. The committee did not find enough evidence based on this newest study to move bladder cancer or hypothyroidism to the “sufficient” evidence category.
We are hopeful that additional research will confirm what many veterans and their families already know and believe: Agent Orange and other herbicides resulted in bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and a host of other diseases.
Bladder cancer and hypothyroidism are not on the list of presumptive diseases for Agent Orange and other herbicide exposure. But, with studies such as this one, that seems more likely to happen at some point.
Even though a disease is not on the presumptive list, you can still file for VA disability compensation benefits. You will just have to provide medical evidence of a nexus between the current disease and your herbicide exposure.
Even if you file and lose your VA claim for bladder cancer or hypothyroidism, you may be in a better position than not filing at all. Remember the veterans who filed and were denied for other Agent Orange conditions before VA presumed a connection between those diseases and herbicide exposure? The VA had to go back and reconsider all those claims filed years before and award back benefits.
Let Us Hear From You
If you have questions about your VA disability claim, we are always happy to discuss your situation with you. If you or a loved one is a veteran diagnosed with bladder cancer, we may be able to help with your claim.
You probably will have more difficulty with your claim than with cancers that VA readily acknowledges are related to herbicide exposure. You will need more detailed medical evidence of a nexus between service and the disease.
We always offer a no obligation, free consultation to veterans. You can complete this form or call us at (770) 214-8885 to set one up.
If you want to learn more about how the free consultation process works, just read this article. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help with your claim.
Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims. He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.
You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.