HSR&D Citation Abstract
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Schmidt EM, Magruder K, Kilbourne AM, Stock EM, Cypel Y, El Burai Félix S, Serpi T, Kimerling R, Cohen B, Spiro A, Furey J, Huang GD, Frayne SM. Four Decades after War: Incident Diabetes among Women Vietnam-Era Veterans in the HealthViEWS Study. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2019 Nov 1; 29(6):471-479.
We analyzed long-term differences in incident diabetes associated with military service in a warzone among women who served during the Vietnam War era.
For HealthViEWS, the largest later-life study of women Vietnam War-era U.S. veterans, a population-based retrospective cohort who served during 1965-1973 completed a health interview in 2011-2012. This cohort included women deployed to Vietnam, near Vietnam, or who served primarily in the United States. We hypothesized a warzone exposure gradient: Vietnam (highest exposure), near Vietnam, and the United States (lowest exposure). We used an extended Cox regression to test for differences in incident diabetes by location of wartime service.
Of 4,503 women in the analysis, 17.7% developed diabetes. Adjusting for demographics and military service characteristics, hazard of incident diabetes was significantly lower initially in the Vietnam group compared with the U.S. group (hazard ratio, 0.33; 95% confidence interval, 0.15-0.69). However, lower diabetes hazard in the Vietnam group was not constant over time; rather, hazard accumulated faster over time in the Vietnam group compared with the U.S. group (hazard ratio, 1.38; 95% confidence interval, 1.11-1.72). No significant difference in diabetes hazard was found between the near Vietnam and U.S. groups. Older age during military service, minority race/ethnicity, and lower military rank were associated with a higher diabetes hazard.
Women deployed to a warzone might have protective health factors that lower risk for diabetes early in their military career, but delivery systems for long-term health should consider that a lower risk for chronic diseases like diabetes can wane quickly in the decades that follow warzone service.