Background: Quantitative evaluations of benzene-associated risk for cancer have relied primarily on findings from a cohort study of highly exposed U.S. rubber workers. An epidemiologic investigation in China (NCI/CAPM study) extended quantitative evaluations of cancer risk to a broader range of benzene exposures, particularly at lower levels.
Methods: We review the evidence implicating benzene in the etiology of hematopoietic disorders, clarify methodologic aspects of the NCI/CAPM study, and examine the study in the context of the broader literature on health effects associated with occupational benzene exposure.
Results: Quantitative relationships for cancer risk from China and the U.S. show a relatively smooth increase in risk for acute myeloid leukemia and related conditions over a broad dose range of benzene exposure (below 200 ppm-years mostly from the China study and above 200 ppm-years mostly from the U.S. study).
Conclusions: Risks of acute myeloid leukemia and other malignant and nonmalignant hematopoietic disorders associated with benzene exposure in China are consistent with other information about benzene exposure, hematotoxicity, and cancer risk, extending evidence for hematopoietic cancer risks to levels substantially lower than had previously been established. Published 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.