Literature Review: The Link between Leukemia and Benzene


The IRAC classifies 116 agents as causing cancer in humans. The agents are in Group 1 of IRAC monographs and include benzene. Benzene, naturally a liquid, is flammable, colorless, and evaporates rapidly in the open. Natural processes like grassland fires and volcanic eruptions form benzene. Even then, most of the exposure to the agent stems from the activities of human beings. The agent is commonly utilized across the globe, especially as a raw material in the manufacture of various pesticides, plastics, rubbers, drugs, dyes, lubricants, and detergents. In some countries, benzene is a common gasoline additive. This paper reviews various journal articles focusing on whether benzene exposure occasions leukemia.

Methods Utilized in the Article Search

The articles reviewed in this paper were searched in various online journal databases using a number of keywords. All the databases selected for the study hold medical literature. The databases were OAlib, PubMed, ResearchIndex, and SearchMedica. OAlib, PubMed, ResearchIndex, and SearchMedica are highly regarded by scientists, medics, and other professionals. They are easy to navigate using keywords. The keywords utilized in the search were “benzene”, “leukemia”, “relationship”, “carcinogen”, and “cancer”. As well, various variants of these keywords were utilized in the searches.

The databases were preferred over library catalogues since the former allows for the searching of particular journals’ contents. As well, the databases hold publications dealing with more highly particular topics than books. All the articles retrieved from the databases selected for the study were peer-reviewed, thus the findings in them are credible. The NO-S (Newcastle-Ottawa Scale) was employed in assessing the selected articles’ quality.


Two of the articles reviewed in this study were among the earliest scientific articles to report that the exposure is associated with the development of leukemia (Delore & Borgomano, 1928; Falconer, 1933). Notably, the research studies by Delore and Borgomano (1928) and Falconer (1933) represent individual cases. A research executed a decade later gave the foremost approximations of the leukemia incidence among employees exposed to the agent at their workstations between 1928 and 1938 (Penati & Vigliani, 1938). Penati and Vigliani (1938) established that 10 of the workers had leukemia while 60 of them had aplastic anemia owing to the exposure in Milan. In Pavia, Vigliani and Forni (1976) found 137 homeopathy cases occasioning death from anemia, which is characterized as being aplastic, in three of the cases. As well, Vigliani and Forni (1976) found 13 leukemia cases.

Up to 1955, Istanbul’s shoemakers used glues made from petroleum. Thereafter, they used glues made from benzene. A research executed in relation to the change shows that the usage of glues made from benzene led to a significant increase of the number of homeopathy cases. Out of about 28500 shoemakers, 26 developed leukemia five years following the change (Aksoy, Erdem & DinCol, 1974). In 1977, Infante, Rinsky, Wagoner and Young (1977) established that when workers are exposed to the agent in rubber plants, the incidence of myeloid leukemia among them rises significantly. A recent methodical literature review by Khalade, Jaakkola, Pukkala and Jaakkola (2010) provides reliable evidence that the exposure increases individuals’ leukemia risk, with a dosage-response mold. That is particularly so with respect to AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) and CML (Chronic Myeloid Leukemia) according to Khalade, Jaakkola, Pukkala and Jaakkola (2010).


The seven articles reviewed above provide proof of a connection between the risk and the exposure. Specifically, the articles demonstrate that the risk’s level is a subject of the extent to which an individual is exposed to the agent. Consequently, can infer that benzene exposure increases individuals’ leukemia risk with a dosage-response mold, or pattern. Apart from the articles by Delore and Borgomano (1928) and Falconer (1933), the others not only bolster the proof of the exposure’s effect on the risk but also offer quantitative approximations of the magnitude of the effect. The risk is significant as well as high across the seven articles. Notably, Khalade, Jaakkola, Pukkala and Jaakkola (2010) established that the pattern remains intact even when one considers the connection between specific types of leukemia and the exposure.


Most of the exposure to the agent arises from the activities of human populations. The principal pathway via which persons get exposed to the agent is taking in air with its traces. As well, the agent is easily absorbed into the skin when it makes contact with gasoline or other benzene sources. Persons as well get exposed to benzene in their workstations and via the consumption of benzene-derived consumer goods. The databases selected for this study allowed for the searching of particular journal article contents. Each of the articles deals with a highly particular topic: the connection between the risk and the exposure. The articles provide proof of an association between the risk and the exposure. Particularly, the reviewed articles demonstrate that the risk’s level is a subject of the extent to which an individual is exposed to benzene.

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