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Cancer Causes Control. 2008 Feb;19(1):13-23. Epub 2007 Sep 29.

Increased risk of acute myelogenous leukemia and multiple myeloma in a historical cohort of upstream petroleum workers exposed to crude oil.

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  • 1Section for Occupational Medicine, Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.


Benzene exposure has been shown to be related to acute myelogenous leukemia, while the association with multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma has been a much-debated issue. We performed a historical cohort study to investigate whether workers employed in Norway's upstream petroleum industry exposed to crude oil and other products containing benzene have an increased risk of developing various subtypes of hematologic neoplasms. Using the Norwegian Registry of Employers and Employees we included all 27,919 offshore workers registered from 1981 to 2003 and 366,114 referents from the general working population matched by gender, age, and community of residence. The cohort was linked to the Cancer Registry of Norway. Workers in the job category "upstream operator offshore", having the most extensive contact with crude oil, had an excess risk of hematologic neoplasms (blood and bone marrow) (rate ratio (RR) 1.90, 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 1.19-3.02). This was ascribed to an increased risk of acute myelogenous leukemia (RR 2.89, 95% CI: 1.25-6.67) and multiple myeloma (RR 2.49, 95% CI: 1.21-5.13). There were no statistical differences between the groups in respect to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The results suggest that benzene exposure, which most probably caused the increased risk of acute myelogenous leukemia, also resulted in an increased risk of multiple myeloma.

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