Bumisuka.com – How Benzene Causes Blood Cancer and Here’s an Explanation. Unilever United States pulled some of its products from the market because it suspected a potential increase in benzene chemical contamination. Some of them are aerosol dry shampoos with the trademarks Dove, TRESemmé, Suave, TIGI, and Nexxus. The good news is that the Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) stated that this aerosol dry shampoo product is not registered in Indonesia.
Withdrawal of these products is not without reason. They are worried that benzene contamination in consumer products can endanger health, namely related to blood cancer. Although based on Unilever’s internal investigations, it was stated that the amount of daily exposure to recalled products was not expected to be potentially harmful.
So, how benzene can cause blood cancer? Here’s an explanation of benzene and its health effects. Listen to the end, yes!
1. Get to know benzene and the origin of its exposure
In modern life as it is today, we are actually very easily exposed to benzene, and you could even say it is quite difficult to avoid it. This happens for several reasons, namely:
- Benzene is a natural component of crude oil, which we can automatically find in gasoline or motor vehicle exhaust fumes. Reported by Healthline, crude oil is the main source of benzene today.
- Benzene is a colorless chemical that can be formed from natural processes. For example, volcanoes, forest fires, and human activities.
- Tobacco smoke or cigarette smoke can also produce benzene from combustion.
- Benzene is also widely used as a solvent in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
- Benzene is popular as a raw material for making plastics, resins, nylon, synthetic fibers, lubricants, pesticides, rubber, detergents, dyes, and other chemicals.
We can be exposed to benzene through various ways, namely inhalation, because benzene is volatile in the air; consumption, if it contaminates food products; and skin absorption in case of direct contact.
2. Who is most likely to be exposed to benzene?
Although it can be found anywhere, benzene outdoors or in the general population is usually in such low levels that it rarely causes problems. However, high exposure can usually occur in the work environment or be experienced by workers. Among others are:
- Workers in industries that use benzene, such as the rubber industry, oil refineries, chemical factories, shoe manufacturers, and gasoline-related industries.
- Steel worker.
- Laboratory technician.
- Gas station employees.
- Groups of people who are often exposed to cigarette smoke, gasoline fumes, certain industrial wastewater, or emissions from some factories.
- Group of people exposed to products containing benzene in an enclosed space. For example from gasoline vapors, glue, solvents, and paint.
In addition, smokers also have the potential to get higher exposure to benzene. According to a 2012 report in the journal Carcinogenesis, smokers can be exposed to 10 times more benzene than non-smokers.
3. Benzene side effects on health
Exposure to high levels of benzene has been reported to cause both short-term and long-term health effects. Some short-term health effects, including:
- If inhaled in high amounts, benzene can affect the nervous system, which can cause drowsiness, headache, confusion, dizziness, shaking, and loss of
- If swallowed, this substance can cause a person to vomit, stomach irritation, dizziness, drowsiness, seizures, and a fast or irregular heartbeat.
- Exposure to liquids or vapors may cause eye, throat, or skin irritation.
- Exposure to the skin may cause redness or blisters.
- If inhaled or ingested in very high amounts, benzene can be fatal or even fatal.
Meanwhile, the long-term effects of exposure to high levels of benzene can cause:
- Anemia, which is a lack of red blood cells that causes fatigue and weakness.
- Weakening of the immune system.
- Excessive bleeding and bruising due to low platelet count.
- Leukemia or blood cancer.
4. The link between benzene and blood cancer
According to a 2012 report from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, exposure to high levels of benzene can damage the bone marrow, which is a soft tissue that forms blood. Initially, it was reported to cause aplastic anemia. However, as research progresses, it is also associated with an increased risk of leukemia.
Leukemia is a blood cancer that occurs in blood-forming tissues in the body, such as the bone marrow and lymphatic system.
Although benzene can cause certain types of leukemia or other blood cancers, exposure to it is more likely to cause acute myeloid leukemia. This is a type of leukemia that attacks myeloid cells, cells associated with the formation of a type of white blood cell.
5. How does benzene cause blood cancer?
When a person is exposed to benzene, this chemical is then carried by the body into the liver. In the liver, benzene will be metabolized to produce toxic metabolites, which will then be sent to the bone marrow.
The presence of these toxic substances can damage the DNA that controls the development or formation of blood cells in the bone marrow. This can lead to the formation of abnormal white blood cells.
If exposure occurs continuously in high amounts, this can result in a buildup of damaged white blood cells and replace healthy white blood cells in the bone marrow. In turn, these conditions will weaken the immune system and cause blood cancer or leukemia.
Based on the information above, benzene is a carcinogenic chemical, which can cause cancer. Long-term, high-level exposure has been associated with acute myeloid leukemia-type blood cancer. Call your doctor immediately, if you experience any of the symptoms listed above, especially if you think you have been exposed to large amounts of benzene and/or for a long time.