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JAMA. 1990 Oct 10;264(14):1824-31.

Health status of Air Force veterans occupationally exposed to herbicides in Vietnam. I. Physical health.

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  • 1USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks Air Force Base, Tex. 78235-5301.


The Air Force Health Study is a 20-year comprehensive assessment of the health of Air Force veterans of Operation Ranch Hand, the unit responsible for aerial spraying of herbicides in Vietnam. The study compares the health and noncombat mortality of Ranch Hand veterans with a comparison group of Air Force veterans primarily involved with cargo missions in Southeast Asia but who were not exposed to herbicides. This report summarizes the health of these veterans as determined at the third in a series of physical examinations. Nine hundred ninety-five Ranch Hands and 1299 comparison subjects attended the second follow-up examination in 1987. The two groups were similar in reported health problems, diagnosed skin conditions, and hepatic, cardiovascular, and immune profiles. Ranch Hands have experienced significantly more basal cell carcinomas than comparison subjects. The two groups were not different with respect to melanoma and systemic cancer.

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