An analysis of the risk of B-lymphocyte malignancies in industrial cohorts

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2003 Apr 11;66(7):581-97. doi: 10.1080/15287390309353768.


Among numerous studies of occupational groups with varied chemical exposures (e.g., farmers, petroleum workers, and rubber workers), some have reported excess risk for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), multiple myeloma, and other cancers of the B-lymphocyte cell line. While not conclusive, these studies raise questions about the effects of chemical exposures on the lymphocytic versus myeloid cell lines. Almost 70 occupational cohort studies were identified that addressed B-cell cancer risks in 9 major industrial categories, in order to look for common patterns across industries. This effort was substantially limited by the inconsistent nature of lymphohematopoietic (LH) classification schemes across studies and over time, and the relative paucity of B-cell-specific results in studies for any given industry. Taking these limitations into consideration, a descriptive, graphical analysis suggested a pattern of B-cell cancer elevations in the rubber and "general chemical" industries, but no consistent patterns in petroleum production/distribution or petrochemical production. The limited data sources, which lack detail about differences in hazard and exposure for different types of products/chemicals, did not allow a comprehensive look at possible common exposures associated with B-cell cancer elevations across industries. This study suggests that evaluation of possible associations between specific chemical exposures and B-cell malignancies would require additional studies with clear and common definitions of B-cell outcomes. The article concludes by giving an example of a possible common framework for categorizing NHL, the diseases for which most classification issues arise.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Butadienes / toxicity
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Hazardous Substances / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / chemically induced*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / classification
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / epidemiology
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / chemically induced*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / classification
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / epidemiology
  • Multiple Myeloma / chemically induced*
  • Multiple Myeloma / classification
  • Multiple Myeloma / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / classification
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data
  • Petroleum / toxicity
  • Population Surveillance
  • Risk Factors
  • Rubber / toxicity
  • Styrene / toxicity


  • Butadienes
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Petroleum
  • Styrene
  • Rubber