Acute myeloid and chronic lymphoid leukaemias and exposure to low-level benzene among petroleum workers.

TitleAcute myeloid and chronic lymphoid leukaemias and exposure to low-level benzene among petroleum workers.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsRushton L, Schnatter AR, Tang G, Glass DC
JournalBr J Cancer
Date Published02/2014
KeywordsAustralia, Benzene, Case-Control Studies, Humans, Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell, Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute, Logistic Models, Myelodysplastic Syndromes, Occupational Exposure, Petroleum, Risk Factors

BACKGROUND: High benzene exposure causes acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Three petroleum case-control studies identified 60 cases (241 matched controls) for AML and 80 cases (345 matched controls) for chronic lymphoid leukaemia (CLL).

METHODS: Cases were classified and scored regarding uncertainty by two haematologists using available diagnostic information. Blinded quantitative benzene exposure assessment used work histories and exposure measurements adjusted for era-specific circumstances. Statistical analyses included conditional logistic regression and penalised smoothing splines.

RESULTS: Benzene exposures were much lower than previous studies. Categorical analyses showed increased ORs for AML with several exposure metrics, although patterns were unclear; neither continuous exposure metrics nor spline analyses gave increased risks. ORs were highest in terminal workers, particularly for Tanker Drivers. No relationship was found between benzene exposure and risk of CLL, although the Australian study showed increased risks in refinery workers.

CONCLUSION: Overall, this study does not persuasively demonstrate a risk between benzene and AML. A previously reported strong relationship between myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) (potentially previously reported as AML) at our study's low benzene levels suggests that MDS may be the more relevant health risk for lower exposure. Higher CLL risks in refinery workers may be due to more diverse exposures than benzene alone.

Alternate JournalBr. J. Cancer
PubMed ID24357793
PubMed Central IDPMC3915135