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J Prev Med Public Health. 2013 Sep;46(5):213-25. doi: 10.3961/jpmph.2013.46.5.213. Epub 2013 Sep 30.

Agent Orange exposure and prevalence of self-reported diseases in Korean Vietnam veterans.

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Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Kwandong University College of Medicine, Gangneung, Korea.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between Agent Orange exposure and self-reported diseases in Korean Vietnam veterans.


A postal survey of 114 562 Vietnam veterans was conducted. The perceived exposure to Agent Orange was assessed by a 6-item questionnaire. Two proximity-based Agent Orange exposure indices were constructed using division/brigade-level and battalion/company-level unit information. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for age and other confounders were calculated using a logistic regression model.


The prevalence of all self-reported diseases showed monotonically increasing trends as the levels of perceived self-reported exposure increased. The ORs for colon cancer (OR, 1.13), leukemia (OR, 1.56), hypertension (OR, 1.03), peripheral vasculopathy (OR, 1.07), enterocolitis (OR, 1.07), peripheral neuropathy (OR, 1.07), multiple nerve palsy (OR, 1.14), multiple sclerosis (OR, 1.24), skin diseases (OR, 1.05), psychotic diseases (OR, 1.07) and lipidemia (OR, 1.05) were significantly elevated for the high exposure group in the division/brigade-level proximity-based exposure analysis, compared to the low exposure group. The ORs for cerebral infarction (OR, 1.08), chronic bronchitis (OR, 1.05), multiple nerve palsy (OR, 1.07), multiple sclerosis (OR, 1.16), skin diseases (OR, 1.05), and lipidemia (OR, 1.05) were significantly elevated for the high exposure group in the battalion/company-level analysis.


Korean Vietnam veterans with high exposure to Agent Orange experienced a higher prevalence of several self-reported chronic diseases compared to those with low exposure by proximity-based exposure assessment. The strong positive associations between perceived self-reported exposure and all self-reported diseases should be evaluated with discretion because the likelihood of reporting diseases was directly related to the perceived intensity of Agent Orange exposure.


Agent Orange; Herbicides; Korea; Prevalence; Veterans; Vietnam War

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