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Epidemiology. 1997 May;8(3):318-20.

Cancer mortality among workers with benzene exposure.

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Monsanto Company, St. Louis, MO. 63167, USA.


We updated a cohort mortality study of 4,172 workers at a chemical plant to examine cancer mortality among workers exposed to low levels of benzene. Overall mortality [standardized mortality ratio (SMR) = 1.0; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.9-1.1] and cancer mortality (SMR = 1.0; 95% CI = 0.8-1.3) rates were at expected levels for production workers with benzene exposure. We observed elevated, albeit imprecise, rates of leukemia (SMR = 2.3; 95% CI = 0.7-5.3) and multiple myeloma (SMR = 2.3; 95% CI = 0.7-9.4) in this group of workers. The leukemias and multiple myelomas occurred predominantly among workers 20 or more years after first exposure. The leukemias were not restricted to acute myelogenous subtypes, and they occurred predominantly among workers hired before 1950 at exposure levels lower than previously reported. Leukemia (SMR = 1.3; 95% CI = 0.6-2.4) and multiple myeloma (SMR = 1.2; 95% CI = 0.3-2.9) rates were at expected levels among maintenance workers with intermittent high exposure to benzene. These findings provide evidence on both sides of the debate about whether low benzene exposure increases the risk of multiple myeloma and all types of leukemia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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