Workplace Handling of Anti-cancer Drugs Linked to Increased Risk of Genetic Damage

Healthcare workers who regularly handled anti-cancer drugs were significantly
more likely to show signs of genetic damage than people who did not handle the
drugs, reports a study in the journal Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation

Genetic damage, including damage to the chromosomes, can increase the risk of
cancer, according to previous research in Europe. Nearly 40 years ago, concerns
arose about work-related exposure to anti-cancer, or antineoplastic, drugs when
it became apparent that patients treated with the drugs sometimes developed
additional cancers secondary to the one under treatment. Since that time,
numerous studies have linked genetic abnormalities with work-related exposure
to anti-cancer drugs among nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare workers
who frequently handle the drugs. The level of risk, however, varied between

To understand the risk to healthcare works who handle anticancer drugs during a
normal workday, investigators conducted an extensive review of published
studies on the subject. Looking at chromosomal abnormalities as a biomarker for
genetic damage, they found a significantly higher level of damage among
healthcare workers who routinely handled anti-cancer drugs compared to study
participants who did not handle the drugs.

The study comprised 17 studies published in 16 peer-reviewed articles. After
searching the scientific literature for relevant research, the investigators
selected the papers from an initial sample of 39 studies. Since the literature
review focused solely on the level of risk, it cannot provide information about
whether protective equipment could help reduce the risk. Due to the serious
nature of potential genetic damage, however, the investigators emphasize the
importance of protecting healthcare workers by limiting workplace exposure to
anti-cancer drugs.

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AplusA-online.de - Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health