The Air Force Health Study: An Epidemiologic Retrospective

School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
Annals of epidemiology (Impact Factor: 2). 03/2011; 21(9):673-87. DOI: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2011.02.001
Source: PubMed


In 1979, the U.S. Air Force announced that an epidemiologic study would be undertaken to determine whether the Air Force personnel involved in Operation Ranch Hand-the program responsible for herbicide spraying in Vietnam-had experienced adverse health effects as a result of that service. In January 1982 the Air Force Health Study (AFHS) protocol was approved and the 20 year matched cohort study consisting of independent mortality, morbidity and reproductive health components was initiated. This controversial study has been criticized regarding the study's potential scientific limitations as well as some of the administrative aspects of its conduct. Now, almost 30 years since the implementation of the AFHS and nearly a decade since the final follow up examinations, an appraisal of the study indicates that the results of the AFHS do not provide evidence of disease in the Ranch Hand veterans caused by their elevated levels of exposure to Agent Orange.

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