Low-level ambient exposure to the volatile organic compound benzene is positively associated with the development of myelodysplastic syndrome and T-cell lymphoma, according to a prospective study by the American Cancer Society published online in the International Journal of Cancer.
The Cancer Prevention Study II Cohort was designed to evaluate the potential cancer risks of ambient benzene exposure in the general population and involved 115,996 participants, 2,595 of whom had hematologic cancer. The majority of previous studies investigating benzene’s cancer risk involved only workplace benzene exposure.
The researchers concluded that “ambient benzene increases risk of MDS and lymphoid malignancies, particularly follicular lymphoma and T-cell lymphoma.”
Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid used as a solvent in many workplaces including the rubber industry, oil refineries, chemical plants, shoe manufacturing and gasoline-related industries. It is also found in cigarette smoke, gasoline and motor vehicle exhaust, and some glues, cleaning products, detergents, art supplies, and paints.
The American Cancer Society identifies long-term exposure to high levels of benzene as a risk factor for some types of leukemia, a cancer of the early blood-forming cells in the bone marrow. It is most often associated with a type of leukemia called acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) occurs when some of the cells in the bone marrow begin having problems making new blood cells. About 1 in 3 patients with MDS can progress to AML. T-cell lymphoma is a rare and often aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Source: Cancer Therapy Advisor