The DOD and VA didn't learn a thing from the debacle of Agent Orange. The Vietnam War ended in March 29, 1973, forty years ago. In its wake many of the Veterans who served there are among hundreds of thousands of veterans filing for damages four decades after the war. According to the Los Angeles Times, "They account for the largest share of the 865,000 veterans stuck in a growing and widely denounced backlog of compensation claims — some 37%. The post 9-11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq account for 20%. The remainder are from the 1991 Gulf War, Korea, World War II and times of peace... about 40% are making claims for the first time. The rest already receive some compensation. Veterans who are denied can reapply indefinitely to increase their payments as existing conditions get worse or new ones emerge".
Our government began testing of herbicides for use as a military defoliant in 1944 at Ft. Detrick. By the late 1960s, it became known that the manufacture of tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD), know as dioxin, was the main concern because of adverse health effects from the use of the herbicide. In 2011, I wrote an article about biological warfare dating back to 1952. The discussion of deterrence and the hopes of never having to resort to the use of such weapons were at the heart of the discussion. I had received a video regarding dioxin because WMD's (weapons of mass destruction) were on everyone’s mind back then because of the Cold War between the East Countries of the Soviet Union and Western Allies.
The problem of using our own troops as guinea pigs to test new weaponry and tactics is that the resultant damage is not fully known until years, if not decades later.
At the 1:34 mark in the video the discussion turns to defoliants and their classification as CBW’s (chemical biological weapons). Along with the video I was asked to look at a couple of pages of the Congressional Record (August 11, 1969 pages s-9519 through S-9524), regarding what Congress knew of herbicide use in Southeast Asia. IT WAS NO SECRET that our government was well aware of the consequences of using dioxin (the chief component of Agent Orange), and was openly discussed in Congress. From that day forward it became a primary duty to those at DOD and the VA to "deny, deny, until they all die", as to the effects of dioxin on our own troops.
Today we are witnessing the same scenario with regards to the use of depleted uranium in our weaponry. The cook-off from depleted uranium creates uranium oxide, a toxic and carcinogenic heavy metal 1.67 times more dense than lead. The aerosol from the cook-off is carried down-wind from the explosion and exposes troops on both sides (friend and foe alike) to inhaling the particles. That which isn't inhaled can land in water, on food on clothing and in the sand and brush used for cover, contaminating everything in its wake.
Like dioxin, the TOTAL long-term effects will not be known for perhaps decades because diseases like cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's Diseases, Alzheimer's, and countless others take time to develop. The birth defects we have witnessed in the off-spring of Vietnam Veterans and in the population of Vietnam are as concerning a horror as any mind can image. With early warning signs from clinical studies indicating exposure-related fetotoxicity, reduced fetal body weights, external and internal malformations, increased incidence of developmental variations, and decreased fertility were observed using laboratory rats (Domingo, 1989a,1989b), it really does look like we are headed down the same road with depleted uranium.
We can discuss the multiplicity of problems from these and probably many other "government experiments" in future articles, but I wanted to talk about a topic near and dear to the hearts of all men, and by the way, their wives and/or partners…PROSTATE CANCER.
Going back a number of years, in speaking to groups about cancer, we used to use a figure that one in every 3 men will develop problems with their prostate at some point in their live…prostatitis, benign hyperplasia of the prostate, or prostate cancer. As many different figures were always floating about and often changed over a period of time, most of us on educational lectures were more intent making men aware that they may well face a prostate battle at some point in their lives. Over the last decade with the incident of prostate cancer on the rise, better statistics have become available.
2006-2010, the median age at diagnosis for cancer of the prostate was 66 years of age. Approximately 0.0% were diagnosed under age 20; 0.0% between 20 and 34; 0.6% between 35 and 44; 9.6% between 45 and 54; 32.3% between 55 and 64; 35.8% between 65 and 74; 17.7% between 75 and 84; and 4.0% 85+ years of age. The age-adjusted incidence rate was 152.0 per 100,000 men per year. For the Veteran exposed to Agent Orange the chances of developing prostate cancer are almost 50% higher than unexposed veterans, making exposure to the defoliate a higher risk factor than age.
There is a preventive course open to all men. The first step is to stop smoking. Yup…the nicotine from tobacco is a known carcinogenic, but we've all known this for years. It doesn't just play a role in prostate cancer but other cancers as well.
Step 2 is to change your dietary intake…hell's bells guys, our mothers told us about the importance of diet to maintain our health, but we must have left that back at the mess hall and or the EM Club. According to WebMD (the Bible of medicine) your diet should consist of
- Reduce animal fat in your diet. A good steak now and then (in moderation is OK)
- Avoid trans fatty acids – foods high in margarines, and/or fried and baked foods).
- Increase your fresh fish intake. The fish should be poached, baked, or grilled (not burned or charred). Avoid fried fish.
- Significantly increase your fresh fruit, herb, and vegetable consumption daily. Avoid high-calcium diets, which have been shown to stimulate prostate cancer growth.
- Take a multivitamin with B complex and folic acid daily.
- Avoid high-dose zinc supplements.
- Increase your natural vitamin C consumption -- this includes citrus, berries, spinach, cantaloupe, sweet peppers, and mango.
- Drink green tea several times each week.
- Avoid excess preserved, pickled, or salted foods.
- Eat red grapes, drink red grape juice, or red wine regularly*.
- Eat leafy dark-green vegetables frequently.
- Cruciferous vegetables are cancer protective. These include cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.
- Tomatoes and especially tomato products are very high in lycopene, a powerful anticancer substance. This includes pizza sauce, tomato paste, and ketchup.
- Avoid flax seed oil. This can stimulate prostate cancer to grow. You can obtain the very healthy alpha omega-3 fatty acids you need through fresh fish and nuts.
- Use olive oil, which is very healthy and rich in vitamin E and antioxidants. Avoid oils high in polyunsaturated fats such as corn, canola, or soybean.
- Take vitamin E, 50 to 100 IU of gamma and d-alpha, only with the approval of your doctor. Some recent studies have raised concerns over serious risks with vitamin E intake. Natural sources include nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado oil, wheat germ, peas, and nonfat milk.
- Selenium is a very powerful antioxidant and the backbone molecule of your body's immune system.
*According to MD Anderson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Houston, TX…"Then there's red wine; red grapes are flush with RESVERATROL, an antioxidant found in some plants that may help inhibit the growth of prostate cancer. A glass or two of red wine daily should suffice. "If you drink too much," says Catherine O'Brian, Ph.D., the lead study author, "you can neutralize the beneficial effects". Additionally from MD Anderson - they are engaged in a clinical study of lentinan, a beta-glucan (a polysaccharide). It has been thoroughly studied in Japan as a treatment for cancer. More on Beta Glucan and Resveratrol can be found on my website at http://docmattson.com.
Step 3. Exercise daily. This doesn't have to be a three hour Jack La Lane workout! Simply walking a mile a day is a great start. I'm 69 years old and believe me, there are days I pray for rain so my wife doesn't drag me down the street for our walk, which today has us up to about two miles a day. The good news is that I've always made it home no worse for wear, but even better yet, I've gotten my weight down almost 20 pounds this past six months and that's good for the long haul.
A you stare in fright at having to get out of your comfort zone (change in lifestyle), just look around and see why living long enough to see your grand children go on to greatness is something we all probably owe our families. The above ideas are not a guarantee you won't develop prostate cancer at some point in your life BUT a few months into a changed lifestyle you will feel better.
In closing, remember, not everyone who develops prostate cancer is going to die from it. On the contrary, there is an old medical saying that "you are more likely to die with prostate cancer than from it". That, of course, is not very comforting to the families of 30,000 families who lost husbands and fathers last year alone to prostate cancer. Prostate cancer, like breast and other cancers differ in severity (aggression) and growth rate. Additionally, medical research has come up with many very effective treatment options which I will cover in part 2. Until next time…