What is it about?

There is sufficient evidence of the role of maintaining good nutritional status during pregnancy, the first year of life and childhood. Nutritional and environmental risk factors such as having a good nutritional state contribute to keep a good immune system as well as the rest function of different systems; exclusive breastfeeding the first six months of life protects, but risk factors such as exposure to various environmental pollutants in water, soil or air. Leukemia is multifactorial, so our main objective was to identify the main nutritional and environmental risk factors mentioned above. Thirty children with a confirmed diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia lived in cities with high levels of arsenic in water. The main nutritional risk factors found were the consumption of whole cow's milk (50%), breastfeeding less than 6 months (27%), weightbirth > 3,500 g (20%), smoking habit of the parents (19%).

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Why is it important?

Children are one of the most vulnerable populations to exposure to environmental chemicals, because they have a larger body surface and shorter stature. Habits like play and crawling generate more contact with the ground and earth. The dose and frequency at which children are exposed to different contaminants can increase the risk of developing cancer. Levels of arsenic, benzene (4.5 μg / m3 in air) and persistent organic compounds have been considered as risk factors in the development of leukemia by the World Health Organization.


Breastfeeding exclusively or for longer, can avoid early exposure to arsenic in water in populations where they do not have access to quality water. Breast milk is the best food for the newborn by providing nutrients and immunoglobulins, with important nutritional benefits. Other factors such as exposure to cigarette smoke at an early age and giving inappropriate foods before the year, such as cow's milk. Identifying the main environmental (polluting) and nutritional risks (nutritional status and diet) are key to preventing the development of this type of childhood cancer.

Rebeca Monroy-Torres
University of Guanajuato

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Main Nutritional and Environmental Risk Factors in Children with Leukemia from a Public Hospital of the State of Guanajuato, Mexico, Current Cancer Therapy Reviews, November 2019, Bentham Science Publishers,
DOI: 10.2174/1573394714666181008151217.
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