A published study in the New England Journal of Medicine assessed the relationship between benzene exposure, bone marrow problems, and leukemia and examined the mortality rate with occupational exposure to benzene. The findings are: (1) There is a strong positive relationship between benzene, leukemia, and bone marrow problems. (2) The study concludes that exposure levels of less than 1 ppm annually, cumulative over a 40-year working lifetime increases the risk of leukemia by a factor of 1.7. (3) In the population studied, there was a statistically significant excess of death from multiple myeloma.
Blood related disorders and bone marrow problems
- Aplastic Anemia, Pancytopenia
- Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
- Myelomonocytic Leukemia
- Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia
- Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
- Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
- Hairy Cell Leukemia
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
- Hodgkin's Disease and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria
- Multiple Myeloma
- Myelodysplastic Syndrome
Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia (AML)
Acute myeloblastic leukemia is a cancer of the blood system in which there is an abnormal production of hematologic stem cells, granulocytic leukocytes, red blood cells, and platelets. This disease is mostly observed in adults and has an increasing incidence with age, peaking in the 6th or 7th decade. There are a number of variants of acute myelogenous leukemia which can be considered to be part of the same disease. These include acute myelomonocytic leukemia, promyelocytic leukemia, and erythroleukemia.
Benzene causes problems in the blood and bone marrow. People who breathe benzene for long periods may experience harmful effects in the tissues that form blood cells, especially the bone marrow. These effects can disrupt normal blood production and cause a decrease in important blood components. A decrease in red blood cells can lead to anemia. Reduction in other components in the blood can cause excessive bleeding. Blood production may return to normal after exposure to benzene stops. Excessive exposure to benzene can be harmful to the immune system, increasing the chance for infection and perhaps lowering the body's defense against cancer.
Medical literature is replete with cases of acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML) in which benzene exposure has been shown as the causative agent. The relatively common description of aplastic anemia associated with benzene exposure followed through a pre-leukemia phase into acute leukemia further supports the concept that the bone marrow toxicity of benzene encompasses a wide spectrum of diseases presenting as anemia, thrombocytopenia, leukemia, or the other hematological diseases.
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