Exposure to Butadiene and Lymphatic and Hematopoietic Cancer.

Cole, Philip; Delzell, Elizabeth; Acquavella, John
Epidemiology: March 1993

Several follow-up studies have assessed lymphatic and hematopoietic cancer (LHC) among workers with potential exposure to 1,3-butadiene. These investigations of the styrene-butadiene rubber and butadiene manufacturing industries include 17,448 subjects with an average of 22 years of follow-up. When the results of the studies are combined, the total number of observed leukemia deaths is 36, compared with 34.2 expected. The standardized mortality ratio is 1.05, with a 95% confidence interval of 0.74-1.46. These null data are compatible with, at most, a weak positive association of butadiene with leukemia. There is little evidence of an association with other forms of LHC among styrene-butadiene rubber workers (55 observed/50.1 expected deaths). Only one study has evaluated directly the relation between estimates of butadiene exposure and leukemia, and this investigation reports a positive association. The result, however, cannot be interpreted as causal, because there is no satisfactory explanation for the marked discrepancy between this case-control study and a null follow-up study based on the same subjects. Overall, the epidemiologic evidence does not provide persuasive evidence that butadiene exposure causes LHC.

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