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Environ Health Perspect. 1996 December; 104(Suppl 6): 1309–1312.
PMCID: PMC1469727
Research Article

Benzene-induced chromosome aberrations: a follow-up study.


To study the evolution of cytogenetic damage from past exposure to high concentrations of benzene and its health significance, chromosome aberrations (CA) in lymphocytes were reinvestigated after approximately 20 years in four subjects with past severe hemopathy and in seven controls studied in the late 1960s. Increased chromosome-type aberrations were still present up to 30 years after benzene toxicity, but blood counts were normal. The vital status at the end of 1993 was ascertained for 32 subjects with a history of benzene toxicity and for 31 controls studied for CA from 1965 to 1970, who differed significantly for CA rates. Of the 32 benzene-exposed subjects, 1 was lost to follow-up, 20 were still alive, and 11 had died at ages 36 to 83, between 1 and 20 years after the last CA study. Five deaths were from neoplasia (acute erythroleukemia, brain tumor, cancer of lung, paranasal cavity, esophagus). The decreased subjects had significantly higher rates of chromosome-type aberrations than those alive, and those who died of neoplasia had the highest rates of these aberrations in the last study before death or diagnosis of cancer. Out of the 31 controls, 12 had died from 4 to 23 years after the CA study. Three deaths were from neoplasia (two lung cancer, one brain tumor). Even if this is a small sample, the results suggest a higher risk of cancer for the benzene-exposed cohort, who had persistently high CA rates in lymphocytes.

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