Parkinson’s disease is a very debilitating disease as it is a degenerative disorder that affects the central nervous system. When most people think about Parkinson’s they think of the few celebrities that have brought the disease into the limelight. Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali have struggled publicly with this disease and have helped to spurn to research for a cure.
Parkinson’s is caused when certain nerve cells in the brain break down or die. This causes a loss of the amount of neurons in the brain. These very neurons are important because they are crucial for the production of dopamine. When dopamine levels decrease it causes abnormalities in the brain which in turn leads to the signs of Parkinson’s disease.
Between the years of 1962 and 1970 more than 20 million gallons of herbicides (Agent Orange) were sprayed in the jungles of Vietnam so that American forces could fight more effectively. It is somewhat ironic that something that was used to protect military personnel can end up being the cause of the biggest battle of their lives. The International Agency for Research on Cancer reclassified TCDD a group 1 carcinogen in 1997. Agent Orange was manufactured using tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin or TCDD. The list of ailments and diseases has steadily grown over the years. In 1991 President H. W. Bush signed the Agent Orange Act into law. The Agent Orange Act of 1991 ushered in the availability of benefits for vets that had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chloracne, and soft-tissue sarcoma. In 1993, the IOM also found a positive link for Hodgkin’s and a few other rare diseases that were caused by Agent Orange exposure. Type II diabetes was linked to Agent Orange in 2000, which is one of the most common diseases in America. Finally in 2009 Agent Orange was linked to Parkinson’s, ischemic heart disease, and hairy cell leukemia.
It seems to me that the many illnesses caused by exposure to Agent Orange may now just be coming to light. There haven’t been many studies to try and correlate Agent Orange and how it may have interacted with other toxins that may have been present in Vietnam. It is unfortunate that the passage of time is required for these diseases to be identified and acknowledged by the VA . Here is a link to the VA site that lists conditions that are currently connected with Agent Orange; http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/