What Are the Risk Factors for Blood Cancers

What Are the Risk Factors for Blood Cancers

What Are the Risk Factors for Blood Cancers?

• Age and gender. Childhood leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children. However, most blood cancers, particularly lymphoma, occur at age 60 and older. Men are more susceptible to blood cancers than women are.

• Family and genetics. Familial acute myeloid leukemia is associated with CEBPA gene polymorphic variants. CEBPA genes encode for a transcription factor that supports the differentiation of white blood cells. Mutation of the CEBPA gene increases the risk of leukemia. On the other hand, lymphoma is not a hereditary disease, and parents with lymphoma will not pass the disease to children. Myeloma, caused by cancerous plasma cells, is also not a hereditary disease.

• Immunodeficiency. Immunodeficiency increases the risk of blood cancers. Antirejection medications after organ transplantation surgery, AIDS, and autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus, can lead to immunodeficiency.

• Radiation. Judging from the data obtained from nuclear bomb explosions in Japan and nuclear reactor accidents around the world, exposure to gamma radiation can cause blood cancers. Cancer patients receiving radiation therapy also have an increased risk of blood cancers.

• Chemicals. Exposure to benzene, herbicides, or pesticides at the workplace increases the risk of blood cancers. Benzene and its derivatives can damage the chromosomes of stem cells in the bone marrow, leading to gene mutations and blood cancers.

• Chemotherapy. Certain chemotherapeutic agents to treat blood cancers may cause second-time blood cancers in patients. For example, alkylating agents, such as melphalan and chlorambucil, are chemotherapeutic agents commonly used to treat blood cancers. These chemotherapeutic agents may cure blood cancers, but they can also inflict second-time blood cancers on patients. The symptoms of second-time blood cancers resemble those of benzene-induced leukemia.

• Obesity. Obesity increases the risk of leukemia. In addition to leukemia, obesity also elevates the risk of cancers in the esophagus, stomach, liver, kidney, pancreas, and colon. In obese people, the abovementioned organs lining the digestive tract are filled with fats known as visceral fats. Visceral fats release chemicals and hormones that promote the transformation of normal cells to cancerous cells and activate the target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway, which facilitates the proliferation and survival of cancerous cells in the inflicted organs.