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Childhood leukaemia and lymphoma: African experience supports a role for environmental factors in leukaemogenesis

6 Nov 2014
Christopher KO Williams, Letitzia Foroni, Lucio Luzzatto, Idris Saliu, Arthur Levine, Mel F Greaves

Major differences exist in the nature of leukaemia and lymphoma in low-income African children compared to those in the high-income countries. These include the absence of the peak incidence of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in under-five-year olds that characterizes the disease in high-income countries. Conversely, chloroma association with acute myelogenous leukaemia (CA-AML/AMML) and
Burkitt’s lymphoma (BL) are rare in the high-income countries. This report describes clinical and laboratory as well as epidemiological features of childhood leukaemia and lymphoma reported betwen 1982 and 1984 in the city of Ibadan, Nigeria. The observed pattern of distribution of childhood haematological malignancies in the city is more consistent with the observations of Ludwik Gross’s experiments on environmental influences, such as malnutrition and infections, animal leukaemogenesis, and mirroring the consequences of the primordial pressures that have shaped human genetics and pathophysiology.

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