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Vietnam-Era Agent Orange Herbicides Are Still Wreaking Havoc On Memories Today

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Vietnam-Era Agent Orange Herbicides Are Still Wreaking Havoc On Memories Today about undefined

If you or your loved one didn’t serve in the Vietnam War you might think that the notorious herbicide Agent Orange can’t hurt you since it was phased out of use a long time ago. But that’s not entirely true…

One of the two chemicals Agent Orange contains is still in widespread use today and the other produces a highly toxic pollutant that lives on in the environment for decades. What’s more, a brand-new study demonstrates for the first time that these two herbicidal toxins have long-term effects that can lead to Alzheimer's-like neurodegeneration.

It’s been over half a century since the herbicide Agent Orange was sprayed from aircraft during the Vietnam War. Its purpose was to defoliate forests and farmland so it couldn’t be used as cover and food for opposition forces.

Agent Orange mostly consists of two herbicides called 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. A bioproduct of the latter is a dioxin called TCDD. Dioxin is a type of pollutant that breaks down so slowly it can persist in the environment and cause harm for decades. Hundreds of different types of dioxins exist but TCDD is the most toxic of them all.

TCDD is classified as a human carcinogen and Agent Orange is linked not just to cancer but heart disease, diabetes, nervous system degenerative diseases, birth defects, and significantly higher rates and earlier onsets of dementia.

Even though Agent Orange was banned in 1971 and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stopped all use of 2,4,5-T in 1985, their menace persists for everyone, but especially for Vietnam veterans. Brown University physician-scientist Suzanne De La Monte and her colleague wanted to investigate Agent Orange because there’s no proven causal link between the herbicide and aging-associated diseases such as dementia.

“If we can show”, she said, “that prior exposure to Agent Orange leads to subsequent neurodegenerative disease, then that gives veterans a chance to get help.”

Mimics Early-Stage Alzheimer's

For the study Professor De La Monte investigated the effects of the two main constituents of Agent Orange on markers of Alzheimer’s neurodegeneration using samples of mature, intact brain tissue of the frontal lobes of rodents. The samples were treated to cumulative exposure of Agent Orange, as well as its separate constituents.

They found the chemicals inflicted damage to brain tissue, with molecular and biochemical abnormalities that mimic pathologies seen in early-stage Alzheimer’s-type neurodegeneration.

Prof. De La Monte explained, saying, “Scientists realized that Agent Orange was a neurotoxin with potential long-term effects, but those weren’t shown in a clear way. That’s what we were able to show with this study.

“Looking for the early effects tells us that there is a problem that is going to cause trouble later on and also gives us a grip on the mechanism by which the agent is causing trouble. So, if you were going to intervene, you would know to focus on that early effect, monitor it and try to reverse it.”

It’s not only veterans that need to be concerned.

2,4-D – A Ubiquitous Weedkiller

One of the herbicides in Agent Orange, 2,4-D, has been in continuous use since the 1940s and today is widely used on home lawns, gardens and golf courses and can be found in over a thousand products. According to the EPA it’s “used in many places including turf, lawns, rights-of-way, aquatic sites, forestry sites, and a variety of field, fruit and vegetable crops.”

The EPA say dioxins are no longer found at detectable levels in 2,4-D products and it “generally has low toxicity for humans.” The Brown researchers disagree, pointing to growing recognition among scientists of the broad toxic and carcinogenic effects of 2,4-D.

With 2,4-D in wide use and 2,4,5-T dioxin exposure still lingering, the Brown researchers believe their findings have significance well beyond veterans. They suggest the widespread, uncontrolled use of Agent Orange components in herbicide and pesticide products is such that one in three Americans has biomarker evidence of prior exposure.

“That’s why it’s so important to look into the effects of these chemicals,” De La Monte said. “They are in the water; they are everywhere. We’ve all been exposed.”

So, the research begs the important question: Is there anything we can do to lower our exposure?

How to Protect Yourself

The digestive and respiratory systems, liver, kidneys, and skin provide our own built-in detoxification system and, when healthy, are very efficient at neutralizing and removing toxins. However, with so many thousands of toxins in the environment, these systems are put under huge strain.

Some of the steps you can take to reduce your toxic burden include the following:

  • Eat organically grown foods.
  • Avoid genetically engineered crops.
  • Avoid ultra-processed foods.
  • Filter water and drink adequate amounts to flush out toxins.
  • Purchasing greener household cleaners and personal care products.
  • Lose excess weight to release and eliminate dioxins, which are stored in fat.
  • Move the body to support the lymphatic system so it can remove metabolic wastes and toxins.
  • Get sufficient sleep to allow clearance of waste from the central nervous system.

Additional protective measures include fasting, drinking juices and herbal teas, taking a regular sauna and supplementing with green superfoods that have been clinically proven to detoxify the body such as chlorella. It’s also a good idea to supplement with B vitamins, which have been shown to protect your lungs and your heart against environmental pollution.

Our takeaway

We’ve written repeatedly over the years about the role toxins play in causing premature aging. From chemicals in the air to microplastics in our oceans and drinking supplies, toxins are wreaking havoc on your health. The research has linked air pollution to heart disease, cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. In fact, air pollution alone can steal ten years from your life according to the science. The statistics are so bad scientists say that clean air would save more lives than a cure for lung cancer and breast cancer combined!

The fact is, maintaining a sharp memory and a healthy body begins with making healthy lifestyle choices. You can start by ridding your life from as many chemicals as possible and consuming a nutrient-rich, vegetable-filled diet.

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