Agent Orange was widely used in Vietnam as a defoliant and much of it was contaminated with extremely toxic dioxin compound. It is the dioxin in Agent Orange that has led to many health problems for Vietnam veterans. Among these are prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and Parkinson’s disease. At the same time, other studies have shown a link between low levels of Vitamin D and many types of cancers including cancer of the prostate and pancreas. Additionally, recent research suggests that there may be a link between low levels of Vitamin D and Parkinson’s disease.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs currently lists prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, multiple myeloma, type II diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma, chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, peripheral neuropathy, chronic lymphocytic leukemia as being presumed to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange if the veteran had service in and around Vietnam . Additionally, the Veterans Administration recently added B cell leukemias, Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease among the presumptive diseases caused by exposure to Agent Orange.
Vitamin D as a Preventative
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs should look into the use of Vitamin D supplements as a way to reduce the effects of Agent Orange. If a link is found, this may be a way to improve the health of veterans, increase quality of life and reduce costs. The evidence in favor of Vitamin D as a preventive is very strong. There is research linking low levels of vitamin D and the onset of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes as shown by American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Additionally, it has also been shown that people with a vitamin D deficiency have higher glucose levels, increased risk of insulin resistance, hypertension and even abdominal obesity. Other reasons to avoid a vitamin D deficiency include a higher risk of stroke, heart attacks, heart failure death related to heart failure.
There is also evidence that higher levels of Vitamin D are associated with lower levers of Parkinson’s disease as published in the Archives of Neurology. One of the effects of Parkinson’s is that there is a higher likelihood of falling and thus breaking bones, including the hip bone. Other studies have shown that higher levels of Vitamin D results in fewer broken bones and higher lower body strength as published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Additional research has shown a positive effect of higher levels of Vitamin D to be associated with lower incidents of prostate and pancreatic cancer.
Vitamin D as a Potential Money Saving Supplement
One of the concerns by some US Senators, including Vietnam Veteran James Webb have questioned the wisdom of adding several age related ailments to the presumptive list of diseases caused by Agent Orange. The additional cost is estimated to be in excess of $40 billion dollars over 10 years. (Air Force Times)
At the same time, a group of Canadian and US scientists have concluded that if Vitamin D deficiency could be eliminated in Canada that it would save Canadians over $14 billion dollars annually according to an article published in the Journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. If the same level of cost savings could be achieved in the U.S. it could potentially save the American people over $140 billion and some of that savings would be manifest in taxpayer funded medical care such as the VA along with Medicaid and Medicare.
While there is still ongoing research, the vast majority of all research shows that a vitamin D deficiency can lead to numerous health concerns for everybody from children to senior citizens. Accordingly, using supplements to increase the amount of vitamin D in the body seems to make good sense and good cents.