Apart from intensive occupational exposure to certain chemicals that are known factors for acute leukemia or chronic myeloid leukemia, the causes of the disease remain unknown. However, there are some theories:
- Benzene – prolonged exposure to this organic chemical compound can cause leukemia in children, some scientists assume. Studies have shown that children living close to gas station or any place where fuel for vehicles is sold have four times more risk of developing leukemia than other children do.
- Certain Foods – studies have been conducted on Hot dog by many scientists such as Sara and David A. Sarasua Savitz of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; they have found that children who eat more than 12 hot dogs per month have about nine times more chance of having leukemia.
The problem lies in the ingredients contained hot dogs. Hot dog contains a preservative substance called nitrite, a form of salt which can be found in some vegetables. In its natural form, nitrite is not harmful to your body. However, it seems that during the cooking process, nitrites combine with certain amines naturally present in meat to form “N-nitroso”, a highly potent carcinogen agent.
- Tobacco – tobacco has always been known as the number one cause of oral cancer. However, although it is not clear, it seems that regular use of tobacco increase the risk of acute myeloid leukemia in adults. According to the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control, tobacco use(including chewing of tobacco and cigarette smoke) seems to participate in development of plasma cell myeloma and acute myelogenous leukemia.
- Ionizing radiation – numerous studies have shown that the risk of leukemia is two times higher among individuals who are constantly exposed to ionization radiation. In addition to leukemia, ionization radiation can also cause other types of cancer such as skin cancer.
- Genetic – in most patients with myeloid leukemia, scientists have found an abnormality in chromosome 22 called Philadelphia chromosome or Philadelphia translocation. This disorder occurs in almost all cases of chronic myelogenous leukemia, which leads to believe that genetic can play a role in having leukemia.
- Virus – certain viruses such as Human T-lymphotropic virus appears to play a role in the occurrence of leukemia; this assumption, however, remains controversial.