Non-radiation risk factors for leukaemia: A case-control study among Chernobyl cleanup workers in Ukraine

Occupational and environmental exposure to chemicals such as benzene has been linked to increased risk of leukaemia. Cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption have also been found to affect leukaemia risk. Previous analyses in a large cohort of Chernobyl clean-up workers in Ukraine found significant radiation-related increased risk for all leukaemia types. This study investigated the potential for additional effects of occupational and lifestyle factors on leukaemia risk in this radiation-exposed cohort. In a case-control study of chronic lymphocytic and other leukaemias among Chernobyl cleanup workers, the authors collected data on a range of non-radiation exposures. These and other potential risk factors were analysed adjusting for estimated bone marrow radiation dose. Odds Ratios and 95% Confidence Intervals were calculated in relation to lifestyle factors and occupational hazards. After adjusting for radiation, the authors found no clear association of leukaemia risk with smoking or alcohol but identified a two-fold elevated risk for non-CLL leukaemia with occupational exposure to petroleum (OR=2.28; 95% Confidence Interval 1.13, 6.79). Risks were particularly high for myeloid leukaemias. No associations with risk factors other than radiation were found for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. The authors concluded that these data – the first from a working population in Ukraine – add to evidence from several previous reports of excess leukaemia morbidity in groups exposed environmentally or occupationally to petroleum or its products.

Authors: Gudzenko N, Hatch M, Bazyka D, Dyagil I, Reiss RF, Brenner A, Chumak V, Babkina N, Zablotska LB, Mabuchi K. ;Full Source: Environmental Research. 2015 Jun 24;142:72-76. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.06.019. [Epub ahead of print] ;