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Benzene exposure, associated with a high multiple myeloma risk in Camp Lejeune veterans

As a cancer growing in a type of white blood cell known as a plasma cell, multiple myeloma occurs in approximately 35,730 people every year nationwide. While the lifetime risk of developing multiple myeloma is 1 in 132, for Camp Lejeune veterans and family members, the risk is significantly higher, as they drank toxic water at the military base during the last century.

Exposure to benzene, which was present in the water at Camp Lejeune, has a strong association with multiple myeloma. In fact, Camp Lejeune Marines have a 68% greater risk of multiple myeloma than veterans stationed at other military bases.

The immune system consists of multiple cell types working together to fight infections. Healthy plasma cells can be found in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system. Lymphocytes are among the main kinds of white blood cells in the immune system and refer to T cells and B cells. When B cells fight infection, they mature and become plasma cells, producing antibodies that help the body attack and kill germs. Usually, when plasma cells become malignant and grow out of control, multiple myeloma develops.

Interestingly, the first cases of acute myelogenous leukemia were reported among workers exposed to high benzene concentrations in shoe manufacturing and rotogravure plants during the last century. Because the benzene metabolites impact hematopoietic stem cells, researchers determined that it was associated with all lymphohematic cancers, including multiple myeloma. The main effects of long-term benzene exposure on the blood and blood-forming tissues include:

  • depletion of bone marrow cells
  • bone demineralization
  • alterations of red cell function
  • a low white blood cell count

A study from Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology followed the health of 250,000 petroleum workers regularly exposed to benzene over 55 years, and 205 of the participants eventually developed multiple myeloma. This conclusion is also supported by cohort studies of workers in other industries exposed to benzene and also by population-based case-control studies of multiple myeloma and occupational exposures.

Trichloroethylene exposure might also contribute to the development of multiple myeloma

Exposure to trichloroethylene, another chemical lurking in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, was found to be a risk factor for multiple myeloma by a study from the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Cumulative exposure and increasing duration were linked to a considerably high risk of multiple myeloma, according to the researchers. Furthermore, the most consistent results were observed for trichloroethylene, with multiple myeloma risk increasing with higher exposure when low-confidence exposure assignments were deemed unexposed.

If you are a Camp Lejeune veteran or a family member of one who lived at the military base and worry you might have multiple myeloma, the following are the symptoms you should pay attention to and for which you should seek medical attention right away:

  • bone pain or a broken bone without an injury
  • fatigue, shortness of breath, or a racing heart
  • heavy nosebleeds or easy bruising
  • frequent infections
  • kidney problems and abnormal blood counts
  • feeling sick, drowsy, or confused

Are you a Camp Lejeune Marine or a family member of one struggling with multiple myeloma? If so, we encourage you to contact our team of professionals, who will gladly help you find out whether you are eligible to file a claim and recover the financial compensation you deserve for your suffering. Because we are well aware of how overwhelming having cancer can be, we will strive to simplify the legal process so that it will require minimal involvement from you. Atraxia Law will efficiently help you determine your eligibility.

File your Camp Lejeune multiple myeloma claim with our expert assistance

Our expert team has over 35 years of experience in reviewing toxic exposure claims and is ready to offer you the assistance you need if you were stationed at Camp Lejeune and have multiple myeloma. The only documents necessary to assess your case are your military records or evidence of your stay at the military base and your medical records. If you are entitled to compensation, we will put you in touch with a reliable, specialized attorney.