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Old Sat Oct 10, 2009, 07:05 PM
Neil Cuadra Neil Cuadra is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Los Angeles, California
Posts: 2,361
Some background information may be helpful for forum readers.

According to the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation, scientific evidence has established a link between Agent Orange and aplastic anemia but not between Agent Orange and MDS. MDS is not on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) list of "diseases subject to presumptive service connection" but there is anecdotal evidence of an association with MDS, and some veterans with MDS have successfully challenged the VA and obtained benefits.

Since 1979 the U.S. Congress has directed that studies be made of the health effects of exposure of Vietnam veterans to herbicides containing dioxin. Under the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) began reviewing the scientific evidence concerning the association between exposure to herbicides in Vietnam and diseases suspected to be related to that exposure. From that came the "presumption of service connection" for some diseases: Hodgkin’s disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and a number of other diseases and cancers. NAS issued its first four reports to the VA in July 1993, March 1996, February 1999, and April 2001.

The VA has made changes to the "presumption of service connection" list based on these NAS reports (example from 1996, example from 1998) and also issued a list of diseases not associated with Agent Orange (example from 1996, example from 2007).

In a June 2002 notice, the VA detailed why leukemia other than CLL was not considered to have an association with Agent Orange, saying that based on NAS reports and several research studies "there is inadequate or insufficient information to determine whether an association exists between exposure to herbicides and leukemia. In their conclusion they said
Taking account of the available evidence and NAS' analysis, the Secretary has found that the credible evidence against an association between herbicide exposure and leukemia outweighs the credible evidence for such an association, and he has determined that a positive association does not exist.
It's easy to see why veterans with MDS would want to see additional research since the NAS and VA conclusions were based on "inadequate or insufficient" information.

The Bone Marrow Failure Disease Research and Treatment Act, currently under consideration in Congress, would direct research into environmental causes of MDS and other acquired bone marrow failure diseases. The specific environmental causes to be studied would depend on which research proposals were submitted and which were funded, so there's no telling if Agent Orange would be studied if the bill passes, but we need to know more about all causes of MDS. I encourage everyone in the U.S. to ask their congressional representative to support the bill.
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