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Causes of Leukemia

Explore the complex world of leukemia as we delve into its underlying causes, symptoms, and ongoing research efforts in this comprehensive article.

  • 09 Oct 2023
  • 3 min read

Leukemia is a type of cancer that is characterised by the malfunctioning and rapid multiplication of abnormal white blood cells in the bloodstream. While it can affect individuals from all walks of life, leukemia - specifically acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML)- has been known to primarily target children. With devastating effects like anemia, severe bleeding issues, bone pain, and piled up infection risk due to lowered immunity system amongst many others; it’s no surprise that understanding the causes of leukemia holds paramount importance when it comes to prevention as well as implanting new treatment strategies. Therefore join us as we decode the mysteries surrounding the causes of leukemia.

How is Leukemia Caused?

Leukemia is caused by mutations in the genetic material within blood cells, specifically leukocytes. The changes impair the cells' ability to regulate their growth and division. In some instances, the mutated cells manage to evade the immune system's control mechanisms, leading to uncontrolled proliferation and outnumbering of healthy blood cells in the bloodstream.

Several factors increase a person's risk of developing leukemia. This includes:

  • Gender: Gender plays a role, with men being more predisposed to this condition than women.
  • Age: Age is a significant factor, as the likelihood of developing most forms of leukemia increases with advancing age.
  • Family history: While most leukemias do not have a strong hereditary component, having a first-degree relative or an identical twin with the condition can increase an individual's risk.
  • Other medical conditions: Congenital syndromes, including Down syndrome, Fanconi anemia, Bloom syndrome, ataxia-telangiectasia, and Blackfan-Diamond syndrome, are associated with an elevated risk of developing the condition.
  • Smoking: Although smoking itself may not directly cause leukemia, individuals who smoke cigarettes face an increased risk of developing the condition.
  • Radiation: Exposure to radiation, particularly from high-energy sources like atomic bomb explosions, can raise the risk of leukemia.
  • Certain chemicals: Long-term exposure to specific pesticides or industrial chemicals like benzene is also considered a risk factor for leukemia.
  • Electromagnetic fields: Prolonged exposure to electromagnetic fields, such as living near power lines, may increase an individual's likelihood of developing the condition.
  • Certain therapies: Certain types of chemotherapy and radiation therapy used to treat other forms of cancer are recognised as factors that can increase the risk of developing leukemia.

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Understanding the causes of leukemia is crucial for timely medical intervention. Gender and age play roles, with men and older individuals at higher risk. While heredity is generally weakly linked, specific syndromes and smoking heighten susceptibility. Radiation, chemical exposures, and chemotherapy also contribute to leukemia risk. Recognising these factors empowers individuals and healthcare professionals to address this complex disease, emphasising prevention, early detection, and treatment strategies. Also, ensure that you have a health insurance plan in place to safeguard yourself against any financial stress.


Disclaimer: The above blog aims to provide general information about health and related topics. Any information provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials is not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is important that you contact your Doctor before starting a new medicine or health regime.

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