Benzene and Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) is an aggressive cancer of the blood. While some experts dispute that benzene causes other forms of leukemia, all medical and scientific experts agree that benzene can cause AML. AML has been classified morphologically according to the French-American-British (FAB) classification system, by the degree of differentiation and the extent of cell maturation. Under the FAB classification system, there are eight subtypes of AML:
- M0 Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia with Minimal Differentiation
- M1 Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia without Maturation
- M2 Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia with Granulocytic Maturation
- M3 Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia
- M4 Acute Myelomonocytic Leukemia
- M5 Acute Monocytic Leukemia
- M6 Acute Erythroid Leukemia
- M7 Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia
Most experts agree that all eight subtypes of AML can be caused by benzene. Some experts who testify for the petroleum industry in benzene-leukemia cases have argued that there is insufficient epidemiologic evidence that Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia is caused by benzene. However, the petroleum industry recently published the largest epidemiologic study evaluating the subtypes of AML and found that Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia had the strongest association for all of the AML subtypes for occupational benzene exposure: Wong, O., et al., “A hospital-based case-control study of acute myeloid leukemia in Shanghai: analysis of environmental and occupational risk factors by subtypes of the WHO classification,” Chem. Biol. Interact. 184(1-2):112-128 (2010). If ever there was any doubt, the evidence is now clear that benzene can cause all of the subtypes of AML.
There are many types of leukemia. However, AML is the type of leukemia that is most strongly associated with benzene exposure. While some experts dispute that benzene causes certain types of leukemia, all medical and scientific experts agree that benzene causes AML. If you have been diagnosed with AML and have an occupational history of exposure to solvents or fuels, your leukemia may well have been caused by benzene.