Leukemia is a cancer of blood that is caused due to certain factors. Read the following article to know about the various factors and causes of leukemia.

Causes Of Leukemia

Before knowing the causes of leukemia, it is important to know what leukemia is. Leukemia is the cancer of the blood or the bone marrow. A patient of leukemia suffers from the abnormal formation of blood cells, especially white blood cells, which are also known as leukocytes. These white blood cells usually contain damaged DNA which leads to abnormal growth and division of cells in the blood. White blood cells normally die after a while and get replaced by new blood cells produced in bone marrow. But these abnormal cells don’t die easily; instead they occupy more and more space causing problems for normal cells. Eventually the normal blood cells become weak in number. Leukemia is of various types such as chronic or acute and lymphocytic or myelogenous. Acute leukemia is a rapid progressive disease in which immature, useless blood cells accumulate in the bone marrow and blood. Chronic leukemia is quite different as it progresses slowly and allows useful more mature cells to be made. Leukemia is also divided on the basis of type of affected blood. If the cancerous growth affects the part of the bone marrow which produces lymphocytes, it is called lymphocytic leukemia. But if the cancerous growth affects the type of marrow which produces red blood cells and other platelets it is called myelogenous leukemia. Now we will discuss in brief about the various common causes of leukemia.
Common Causes of Leukemia
  • Cigarette smoking increases the risk of leukemia. There are many carcinogenic substances present in tobacco such as benzene, polonium- 210 and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These harmful carcinogens are absorbed by lungs and spread by blood.
  • Radiation is another cause of leukemia. Excessive high dose of radiations can pose high risk of chronic myelogenous leukemia. Nuclear radiations in atomic bomb explosions in World War II and the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant accident were highly intense and caused leukemia in many survivors.
  • Human T-cell Leukemia Virus type I (HTLV- I) is another cause of leukemia. It is a human RNA retrovirus that can cause a rare type of chronic lymphocytic leukemia also known as T- cell leukemia. One in every twenty infected cases of Human T-cell Leukemia Virus type I (HTLV- I) suffers from leukemia.
  • Medical treatment or radiation therapy can also pose a risk of leukemia. Some medical treatments like radiotherapy which includes using ionizing radiations to cure cancer, exposes patient to radiations. X-ray examinations also expose patients with lower level of radiations. These radiations increase the risk of leukemia in patients.  
  • Chemotherapy is a medical treatment in which certain chemicals are used to kill the microorganisms or cancerous cells. Certain drugs, known as alkylating agents, which are used in chemotherapy, can induce leukemia in some cases.
  • Working in places where benzene is widely used increases the risk of leukemia. Benzene has harmful carcinogenic properties and can cause chronic myeloid leukemia or acute lymphocytic leukemia. Benzene is widely used in chemical industry including gasoline products.
  • Another risk factor for causing leukemia is Down syndrome which is a chromosomal condition which is caused due to the presence of all or a part of an extra 21st chromosome. Patients with chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome are likely to develop leukemia.
  • People with certain blood disorders like Myelodysplastic syndrome are also in risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia.
Hope these causes of leukemia act as a guiding light and help you prevent the disease in the first place. Remember prevention is better than cure!

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