Alterations in leukocyte telomere length in workers occupationally exposed to Benzene

Bryan A. Bassig*, Luoping Zhang, Richard M. Cawthon, Martyn T. Smith, Songnian Yin, Guilan Li, Wei Hu, Min Shen, Stephen Rappaport, Francesco Barone-Adesi, Nathaniel Rothman, Roel Vermeulen, Qing Lan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Exposure to benzene, a known leukemogen and probable lymphomagen, has been demonstrated to result in oxidative stress, which has previously been associated with altered telomere length (TL). TL specifically has been associated with several health outcomes in epidemiologic studies, including cancer risk, and has been demonstrated to be altered following exposure to a variety of chemical agents. To evaluate the association between benzene exposure and TL, we measured TL by monochrome multiplex quantitative PCR in 43 workers exposed to high levels of benzene and 43 age and sex-matched unexposed workers in Shanghai, China. Benzene exposure levels were monitored using organic vapor passive dosimetry badges before phlebotomy. The median benzene exposure level in exposed workers was 31 ppm. The mean TL in controls, workers exposed to levels of benzene below the median (≤31 ppm), and above the median (>31 ppm) was 1.26±0.17, 1.25±0.16, and 1.37±0.23, respectively. Mean TL was significantly elevated in workers exposed to >31 ppm of benzene compared with controls (P=0.03). Our findings provide evidence that high levels of occupational benzene exposure are associated with TL.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)673-678
    Number of pages6
    JournalEnvironmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


    • Benzene
    • Occupational exposure
    • Telomere length
    • Telomeres


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