Increased risk of myelodysplastic syndrome

A paper published this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by Lesley Rushton and colleagues has shown that  low levels of exposure to benzene experienced by petroleum distribution workers in a combined study of Canadian, Australian and UK workers is associated with an increased risk of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a disease only relatively recognized and one which can sometimes progress to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). The study showed a clear dose-response with increasing risk associated with increasing exposure. Benzene is well known to cause AML at high levels of exposure and this new study suggests that MDS may be the more relevant health endpoint for lower exposures.