Incidence of myelodysplastic syndrome in UK petroleum distribution and oil refinery workers, 1995-2011

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The incidence of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) experienced by cohorts of 16,467 petroleum distribution workers and 28,554 oil refinery workers has been investigated. Study subjects were all those male employees first employed at one of 476 UK petroleum distribution centres or eight UK oil refineries in the period 1946–1974; all subjects had a minimum of twelve months employment with some employment after 1st January, 1951. Observed numbers (Obs) of MDS cases were compared with expectations based on national incidence rates for the period 1995–2011. The overall standardised registration ratio (SRR) was 73 (Obs = 17) in petroleum distribution workers for the age-range 15–84 years, and 77 (Obs = 21) for the age-range 15–99 years. The overall SRR was 81 (Obs = 29) in oil refinery workers for the age-range 15–84 years, and 83 (Obs = 36) for the age-range 15–99 years. More detailed analyses were carried out in terms of year of registration, period from hire, decade of hire, and duration of employment. The overall SRR findings did not provide clear evidence for the presence of an occupational cancer hazard, and provide no support for the hypothesis that low-level benzene exposure has an important effect on the risks of MDS.


Original languageEnglish
Article number474
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2016


  • myelodysplastic syndrome, benzene, prospective cohort study

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