When historians write about the Vaccine Decades (1976–2020), there are two names that will live in infamy: Dr. Frank DeStefano, and Dr. Coleen Boyle.
Why Are the Same People Who Failed at Science on Agent Orange in Charge of Vaccine Safety and Developmental Disorders at the CDC?
In the 1980s, Congress mandated Agent Orange studies. Frank and Coleen ended the studies two years early, insuring that “no link” would be found between illnesses being reported by injured veterans and dioxin. The early termination of the study allowed the US Department of Veterans Affairs to deny any connection between Agent Orange and medical problems, preventing veterans and their families from qualifying for compensations. Here’s your hurt, what’s your hurry. The Boyle/Destefano team bamboozle was outed by Admiral Zumwalt who went to the President and laid out the science in a classified report (now declassified):
“Without exception, the experts who reviewed the work of the Advisory Committee disagreed with its findings and further questioned the validity of the Advisory Committee’s review of studies on non — Hodgkin’s lymphomas .”
“a decision which should have been based on scientific data was reduced to vague impressions”
[One impartial review team’s results were] “a stunning indictment of the Advisory Committee’s scientific interpretation and policy judgments”
“1987 Followup Examination Results,” described statistically significant increases in health problems among Ranch Handers including all cancers”
“The work of the Veterans’ Advisory Committee on Environmental Hazards, as documented in their November 2, 1989 transcript, has little or no scientific merit, and should not serve as a basis for compensation or regulatory decisions of any sort.”
“the Air Force could just as easily have concluded that the health problems associated with the Ranch Handers were not necessarily related to eating beer nuts.”
“Shamefully, the deception, fraud and political interference that has characterized government sponsored studies on the health effects of exposure to Agent Orange and/or dioxin has not escaped studies ostensibly conducted by independent reviewers, a factor that has only further compounded the erroneous conclusions reached by the government.”
The Zumwalt report concluded:
“It can, in my judgment, be concluded, with a very high degree of confidence, that it is at least as likely as not that the following are caused in humans by exposure to TCDD: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chloracne and other skin disorders, lip cancer, bone cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, birth defects, skin cancer, lung cancer, porphyria cutanea tarda and other liver disorders, Hodgkin’s disease, hematopoietic diseases, multiple myeloma, neurological defects and auto-immune diseases and disorders.
In addition, I am most comfortable in concluding that it is at least as likely as not that liver cancer, nasal/pharyngeal/esophageal cancers, leukemia, malignant melanoma, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, brain cancer, psychosocial effects, and gastrointestinal disease are service– connected..”
President Clinton called Admiral Zumwalt “the conscience of the US Navy”. In fact, Zumwalt’s report is used by veterans seeking compensation. Zumwalt’s son was exposed to Agent Orange and died of lymphoma in 1988.
Boyle and Destefano’s Role in Agent Orange Pseudoscience
The CDC study (which lists no authors) that was published did not study any specific mechanism by which Agent Orange might have caused health issues in veterans. Instead, it studied dioxin levels in Vietnam veterans compared to non-Vietnam veterans. The 646 Vietnam veterans studied by CDC who all served in units that were most likely exposed, did not have elevated levels of dioxin as compared to non-Vietnam veterans. This retrospective study seeking differences of levels of dioxin nearly two decades after exposure is a type of epidemiologic study with only a long shot at success. The aims of the study were to determine whether military records could be “used to identify US Army Vietnam veterans who were likely to be exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange”.
Dioxin is stored in fat. The study measured dioxin levels in serum. Given the CDC’s failure to detect evidence for increased exposed in the 1980s, the ill-posed study was initially used as justification for no further science on the possible effects of exposure.