Serum 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) levels and thyroid function in Air Force veterans of the Vietnam War

Marian Pavuk, Arnold J. Schecter, Fatema Z. Akhtar, Joel E. Michalek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: We assessed potential health effects of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) concentration in serum on thyroid function in US Air Force veterans involved in Operation Ranch Hand, the unit responsible for the aerial spraying of herbicides, including TCDD-contaminated Agent Orange, during the Vietnam War from 1962 to 1971. Other Air Force veterans who were not involved with spraying herbicides were included as Comparisons. METHODS: We analyzed thyroxine (total T4), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronin percent uptake (T3% uptake), the free thyroxine index (FTI), and thyroid diseases against serum TCDD levels. Data was available for 1,009 Ranch Hand and 1,429 Comparison veterans compliant to any of five examinations in 1982, 1985, 1987, 1992, and 1997. Each veteran was assigned to one of four exposure categories based on serum TCDD levels, named Comparison, Ranch Hand Background, Ranch Hand Low Elevated, and Ranch Hand High Elevated. RESULTS: Cross-sectional analyses found statistically significantly increased TSH means at the 1985 and 1987 examinations in the High category and a significant increasing trend across the three Ranch Hand TCDD categories in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1992. A repeated-measures analysis found significantly increased TSH means in the High TCDD category. We found no significant relation between the occurrence of thyroid disease and TCDD category. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that TCDD affects thyroid hormone metabolism and function in Ranch Hand veterans. Further follow-up will be necessary to understand the relation, if any, between thyroid disease and TCDD levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-343
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2003


  • Dioxin
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Ranch Hand
  • TCDD
  • TSH
  • Thyroid Function
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Vietnam Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Serum 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) levels and thyroid function in Air Force veterans of the Vietnam War'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this