A long-awaited government study sheds more light on the exposure and health impacts on those who have served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

“Increased risks of several cancers were observed among Marines/Navy personnel and civilian workers likely exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune,” the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry report states.

The study, which was released in January following a court ruling, shows that certain cancers, including thyroid, esophageal, squamous cell lung, and male and female breast cancers, have a 20% higher likelihood of developing for those stationed at Camp Lejeune from 1975 to 1985 than at other locations.

The contamination was caused by several substances, inducing trichloroethylene (TCE), found in everything from adhesives to typewriter correction fluids. Unbeknownst to the hundreds of thousands of sailors and Marines who served at Camp Lejeune, they were being slowly and steadily exposed to carcinogens in the course of their regular duties.

To determine the link between water contamination and the increased cancer incidence, researchers compared cancer rates at Camp Lejeune with rates at Camp Pendleton, California, between 1972 and 1985. The groundbreaking report confirms what many have suspected: The drinking water at Camp Lejeune has been deadlier than previously thought.

These health conditions and others weren’t previously associated with water contamination on the base and don’t establish new presumptive conditions. However, the VA had previously established presumptive status for eight other cancers and diseases for those who served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987.

A presumptive condition means the VA must automatically presume that an illness stems from military service. No evidence is needed to prove the link between military service and the condition; all that is required is to meet the service requirements, such as dates and locations.

“Military service comes with risks, but no one expects danger from a canteen or faucet on base,” said DAV Deputy National Legislative Director Shane Liermann. “We are learning that toxic exposure seems to be a hallmark, not an exception, of military service, and we must continue to look for gaps in current policy to bring justice to all who are suffering—including those who served at Camp Lejeune.”

“From expanding Agent Orange benefits to more Vietnam veterans to ushering in a new era of toxic-exposure benefits under the Honoring our PACT Act, DAV-supported tectonic shifts in Department of Veterans Affairs policy have brought justice to thousands,” added DAV Washington Headquarters Executive Director Randy Reese. “However, our work is far from over.”

If you believe you or your family members may be eligible for VA benefits or health care due to service at Camp Lejeune, contact a DAV benefits advocate to assist you with filing a claim at dav.org/get-help-now.

Follow along with updates to legislation affecting veterans and their families by joining DAV CAN (Commander’s Action Network) at davcan.org.