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Forum Name: Miscellaneous Cancer Topics

Question: Potential Benzene Ingestion


 mattymc13 - Sun Dec 02, 2007 10:52 pm

Hello. My name is Matt, I am 19 years old and I'm having some real concerns about my health. I have always been quite a large hypchondriac, but this is really beginning to worry me.

Recently somebody cooked a pizza for me, but left the styrene base disc on it by accident. I wasn't informed before eating the pizza, only after eating it. It didn't taste any different, but after reading up on it...I learnt that it can actually be extremely dangerous. It concerns me even more that my younger brother with down syndrome shared the pizza with me. The styrene disc was fairly well melted.

So recently I am having a few health problems. General aches and pains all over the place. My head (nausea), neck and lower back mainly. I talked to my GP after eating it and he said it's nothing to worry about because he thinks styrene is fairly inert. But thanks to the internet, I know this isn't the case. I know it transfers benzene into the food, which is a known carcinogen and mutagen.

Also recently I have been suffering from major acidity problems in my stomach, or so the doctors think. They put my other aches and pains down to the stomach problems. I am currently taking lanzoprazole for the stomach problems, but I just need some reassurance that by just cooking a pizza, I haven't condemned my brother and I to a short, cancerous life.

My brother is 6, he has down syndrome and I would feel utterly terrible if anything happened to him over this. He has also been complaining of pains in his neck.

Do carcinogen's cause immediate problems? Or do they cause problems over time? Also, is cell damage repairable? Or is it a case of...once you get it...it's curtains?

Please help meeeeeeee!
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Mon Dec 03, 2007 8:10 pm

User avatar Hi Mattymc13,

I suspect that both you and your brother are in no danger from this. You are correct that styrene or benzene can be dangerous if ingested but the amount of exposure you were likely to get from this is fairly minimal.

If you were to eat your pizza this way every time over the course of several years you may develop problems.

Best wishes.
 Dr. Safaa Mahmoud - Fri Oct 17, 2008 12:59 pm

User avatar Hello,
I agree with Dr. Chan and I would like to add some information about benzene exposure and its hazards.
Benzene exposure can cause immediate or long term effects.

Direct exposure can be through inhalation, ingestion with food, skin contact or eye contact. The major immediate effects are dose dependent and usually occur with high doses. These effects may be in the form breath difficulties, confusions, and loss of consciousness if benzene was inhaled. While following ingestion vomiting and stomach pain may occur. Skin and eye irritation results from direct benzene exposure. Exposure to very high levels may cause death.

All studies have proved that exposure to a carcinogen for long duration is a major risk for cancer development. Exposure to benzene as well at high levels and for long duration results in cancer in blood forming organs like leukemia.

Keeping in mind that sporadic exposure to carcinogen seldom causes cancer makes you and your brother reassured especially the amount you may have been exposed to is of no significance.

Best regards.

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