London: Living in the proximity of heavily-used roads may increase risk of a type of leukaemia in children, according to research. Exposure to benzene related to car traffic might be one of the explanations for this association, the study said. The researchers examined all 2,760 cases of childhood leukemia diagnosed in metropolitan France between 2002 and 2007, and compared them to a contemporary sample of 30,000 control children.
The results showed that the incidence of new cases of myeloblastic leukaemia (418 of 2,760 cases of leukaemia) was 30 percent higher in children in the population whose residence was located within 150 m of heavily used roads, and had a combined length of over 260 m within this radius. In contrast, this association was not observed for the more common, lymphoblastic type of leukaemia (2,275 cases).
“The frequency of myeloblastic type leukaemias was 30 percent higher in children living within a 150 m radius of heavily used roads, and where the combined length of road sections within this radius exceeded 260 m,” said one of the researchers, Jacqueline Clavel, from French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM). The increased risk of myeloblastic leukaemia for adults with a history of occupational exposure to benzene has long been known, the study pointed out. The findings were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.