Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Most people that I have mentioned this word to have never heard of it.  That was my experience in 1998.

I was told that the acute leukemia that my daughter had was caused either by being at the bombing of Hiroshima or benzene.  My first thought was, "What the heck is benzene"?  I knew she had not been at Hiroshima.

I was not on the internet at the time, but immediately went out, bought a new computer and got on the internet so I could find out what benzene was and to hopefully figure out what to do to help my daughter.

There was not much information about benzene sixteen years ago.  It said that it was an aromatic hydrocarbon but there was no information to the effect that it was a carcinogen.  None. No mention of leukemia as at that point, other then what the oncologists at MD Anderson were telling us, it was unknown..  They were and are the leading researchers on cancer.

Every time I have ever mentioned that leukemia, a blood cancer, is an "environmental cancer" people almost always look skeptical.  Then the conversation would move to benzene. Ninety-nine percent of the people had never heard of it.  Most people do not know how many forms of blood cancer there is either.

It's killing lots of people!  Let me tell you more.  Benzene is an organic chemical compound that is a by product of crude oil.  It is defined as an aromatic hydrocarbon and used in the manufacture of gasoline.

When you go to the service station to put gasoline into your car, you are smelling and breathing benzene fumes.  It is highly dangerous.  Turn away from the fumes to pump your gasoline.  Please

The service stations used to have attendants in the USA to pump gas.  The incidence of blood cancer in these men is shocking.  Do some reading.  The increase of blood cancer in the USA and world is astonishing.

When I went online yesterday to do some research before writing this post, I was astonished to see all the information about how benzene is the cause of leukemia and other cancers!  It says it out right.  Also shocking is the fact the benzene is traded on the stock exchanges!

I've known this now for all these years.  I know that is what lead to my daughter's death at the young age of 42.  It has been frustrating to know and not have any way to take action.  Houston is a HUGE refinery city and that is probably why the eight story parking garage at MD Anderson does not have enough room for the increasing number of cancer patients, sadly.

This article was prompted by the fact that two days ago I read a medical journal report that was just published that says that benzene has NOW been proven to be the leading factor in breast cancer.  We've all seen the huge amount of people, mostly women, with breast cancer over the last twenty years.  It was hard to pinpoint what could be causing such a drastic increase.  Initially they said hormones.  But now, this.

Remember that plastics are made of byproducts of oil also and I wouldn't be the least surprised if someone writes to me and tells me benzene is used in that process.  I haven't done enough reading to know if that is possible.

But, logically, if you think about the fact that we have only had plastics for the last 50 years or so and the massive increase of cancers, doesn't it make you wonder what is causing such an increase?  I wonder.

I do have to tell you that when I read the shocking information in this newly published medical journal article about breast cancer, I wanted to cry.  I wanted to cry for all the friends I have lost and for all of those who have been impacted with loss.  Unnecessarily.

My purpose in writing this article, since I'm a small voice in a little pond, is to hope that ONE person is saved from death by reading this post, doing their own research and avoiding, if possible, any exposure to benzene.

I also hope that the chemicals being injected into the earth for the extraction of natural gas that is being found in water supplies does not have benzene as one of the chemicals.  I so hope.

The motorcycle shop down the hill from me continues to pour the used gasoline and chemicals into the soil above the presa (reservoir) that when full flows through town to the larger reservoir on the other side of town.  That water is used for irrigation, boating, and who knows what else - possibly drinking.  I cringe every time I think of it.  I've tried to get some action but no one has paid attention.

If anyone is reading this post and has the authority to prevent, what could at some point become a catastrophic number of cancer cases, either here in San Miguel de Allende or anywhere else, please take action.  Please alert whoever can make a difference in the future lives of innocent and unknowing people.



Peter Kouwenhoven said...

Hi Babs,

So sorry to read about your daughter's early death...
My mother died of the same cancer at age 47, a long time ago now.
It seems that no matter where we look, there are cancer causing substances. Friends of mine grow their own veggies, and water them with rain water, but the soil has been messed up with polluted rain water for years. Just driving to work, sitting in traffic, inhaling the fumes will kill you eventually.

Benzene, is also commonly used in dry cleaning. After picking up your freshly dry-cleaned clothing let it air out quite awhile before wearing it.

Keep well, we'll meet someday soon.

Cheers, Peter.

Babs said...

Peter thank you for your lovely note. I"m so sorry you lost your mother at such a young age as well.
Indeed, we are killing ourselves by allowing mfgrs. to make products that are KNOWN to kill.
Luckily, I don't have dry cleaning down here! I got rid of all those kind of clothes when I left the USA and live a much more relaxed lifestyle now. Hopefully we will meet some day soon.

Anonymous said...

Hola Barbara,

The sad thing about a lot of this stuff is that people are rather cavalier about the long-term effects of things. I'm horrified by the number of friends who continue to microwave in plastics despite my having explained to them time and again how dangerous that is. And that little example repeats itself across people's lives again and again. And it goes for exposure to things like benzene. It's a useful chemical, but all those little exposures add up to lasting harm.

I'm so sorry about your daughter; I recall you telling me the story when we met. Did she work in or close to a refinery? My mother used to work for Stanford Press, and in the 70's they had their own printing operation where benzene was used liberally to clean up ink. Fortunately my mother was in an office upstairs, but I've got to imagine that plenty of those press operators also have cancer.


Kim G
Tehuacán, Puebla
Where we wonder about the health effects of all those smoke-belching trucks and old cars.

Babs said...

Kim, you are so right! Benzene is not a NEEDED product and neither is PLASTIC, actually. We didn't have those in the 60's. The increase in leukemia in the last 15 years is over 70%. We indeed are allowing ourselves to be killed by a product that makes money for others.
I usually don't get on a soapbox but this seems so ridiculous to me in a fatal way.
Jennifer was in the business world but was seven months pregnant and also working along with taking a certification test as a benefits specialist for a huge insurance company. Her immune system was compromised and I assume that the benzene had been lingering, but I have no confirmation of that!