US Air Force veterans who participated in the spraying missions of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War have a more than twofold increased risk of developing a condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, or MGUS, a precursor to multiple myeloma. An association between Agent Orange and multiple myeloma has been suspected based on other studies involving farmers and agriculture workers, but this study provides the first direct evidence linking Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange with MGUS. Fifty years after the US Air Force began spraying Agent Orange in Vietnam, new research shows that veterans exposed to the herbicide are more than twice as likely to develop monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), a precursor to multiple myeloma.
A team of researchers led by Ola Landgren, Chief of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Myeloma Service, analyzed serum samples from 459 US Air Force personnel involved in aerial herbicide spray missions during the Vietnam War, as well as 459 samples from veterans who served there at the same time but were uninvolved in the spraying missions.
All of these veterans served between 1962 and 1971, when the US military dropped more than 19 million gallons of herbicides in Southeast Asia during Operation Ranch Hand.