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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997 Jul 16;89(14):1065-71.

Benzene and the dose-related incidence of hematologic neoplasms in China. Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine--National Cancer Institute Benzene Study Group.

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  • 1Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Benzene is a widely distributed environmental contaminant known to cause leukemia, particularly acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, and perhaps other hematologic neoplasms and disorders. Few epidemiologic studies, however, have been able to address relationships between the extent of benzene exposure and the level of risk.

PURPOSE:

A large cohort study was carried out in China to evaluate the risks of developing specific hematologic neoplasms and selected related disorders in relationship to quantitative estimates of occupational benzene exposure.

METHODS:

A cohort of 74828 benzene-exposed and 35805 unexposed workers employed from 1972 through 1987 in 12 cities in China was identified and followed to determine the incidence of hematologic neoplasms and related disorders. Estimates of benzene exposure were derived from work histories and available historic benzene measurements. Existing pathologic material and supporting medical records were reviewed to establish diagnoses of disease. Relative risks (RRs) (i.e., ratios of incidence rates for specific hematologic neoplasms and related disorders in the benzene-exposed group to incidence rates in the unexposed group) were determined by use of Poisson regression analysis, with stratification by age and sex.

RESULTS:

For workers historically exposed to benzene at average levels of less than 10 parts per million (ppm), the RR for all hematologic neoplasm combined was 2.2 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.1-4.2), and, for the combination of acute nonlymphocytic leukemia and related myelodysplastic syndromes, the RR was 3.2 (95% CI = 1.0-10.1). For individuals who were occupationally exposed to benzene at constant levels of 25 ppm or more, the RR for the combination of acute nonlymphocytic leukemia and related myelodysplastic syndromes was 7.1 (95% CI = 2.1-23.7). Workers with 10 or more years of benzene exposure had an RR of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of 4.2 (95% CI = 1.1-15.9), and the development of this neoplasm was linked most strongly to exposure that had occurred at least 10 years before diagnosis (i.e., distant exposure) (P for trend = .005, two-sided). In contrast, the risk for the combination of acute nonlymphocytic leukemia and related myelodysplastic syndromes was significantly increased among those with more recent benzene exposure (P for trend = .003, two-sided), but it was not linked to distant exposure (P for trend = .51, two-sided).

CONCLUSIONS:

The results of this study suggest that benzene exposure is associated with a spectrum of hematologic neoplasms and related disorders in humans. Risks for these conditions are elevated at average benzene-exposure levels of less than 10 ppm and show a tendency, although not a strong one, to rise with increasing levels of exposure. The temporal pattern of benzene exposure appears to be important in determining the risk of developing specific diseases.

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PMID:
9230889
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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