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New Research Conducted by University Cancer Centers Links BP Refinery Incident to Increase Occurrence of Cancer in Texas City

HOUSTON, Feb. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- The University Cancer Centers' pilot study demonstrated that benzene exposure has significant health risks, specifically, altering the blood cells and liver enzymes. This indicates the Texas City subjects exposed to benzene are at higher risk of developing hepatic or blood related cancer due to the inflammatory response it may produce in the bone marrow, which may be cytokine mediated or acute chemical hepatic toxicity.

The purpose of this study was to assess a cohort of subjects who underwent clinical evaluation, specifically, in relation to array of clinical findings characteristic of ambient exposure to benzene at the University Cancer Centers. In particular, the clinical findings of the subjects exposed to benzene evaluated and compared to the cohort of subjects who were not exposed to benzene.

In 2010, British petroleum (BP) refinery spewed tens of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals into the skies of Texas city, Texas. Specifically, the release from the BP facility began April 6 and lasted 40 days due to a problem with a compressor on the refinery's ultracracker unit resulted in increased flaring as the unit continued to operate.

The scope of the problem was realized only after analyzing data from a monitor that measures emissions from a flare 300 feet above the ground that was supposed to incinerate the toxic chemicals. It is estimated that more than 500,000 pounds of chemicals, including benzene and carbon monoxide escaped from the refinery while it was replacing the equipment and contaminated the air surrounding the refinery.

A total of 200 subjects (benzene exposed, n=100 and non-exposed, n= 100) were included in this analysis. The mean age of subjects was 32.6 and 50.3 years in the exposed and non-exposed groups, respectively. White blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin and hematocrit were significantly higher in subjects in the benzene exposed group compared with those in the non-exposed groups. Alkaline phosphatase was significantly higher in subjects in the benzene exposed group compared with those in the non-exposed groups. Similarly, benzene exposed subjects experienced significantly higher levels of AST and ALT compared with non-exposed subjects.

This study was conducted at the University Cancer Centers in Houston, Texas, by Dr. Mark A. D'Andrea, MD, FACRO and Dr. G. Kesava Reddy , PhD, MHA, and will be presented at ARCO 2013 in San Antonio, Texas on Friday, February 15, 2013. Subjects exposed to benzene and non-exposed to benzene were included in the study. The benzene exposed subjects were residents of the Texas City, specifically living very close proximity to BP refinery plant. The non-exposed subjects were residents of Huston Suburbs who lived 30-40 miles away from the BP refinery plant. Blood and urine samples were collected, analyzed and compared between the benzene exposed and non-exposed subjects.

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