What causes leukemia?Cancer in all the types of known cancer starts at the bone marrow after which leukemia cells start to multiply. Why these cells change has remained a great mystery. But doctors have pointed out certain risk factors, which cause leukemia. They have said that high radiation levels, being born with the Down syndrome and having had radiation or chemotherapy of cancer and other inherited genetic disorders could possibly cause leukemia.

The issue of X- Rays

X-rays have been identified as a major cause of leukemia. When radiation is available in high doses, this can cause leukemia. For instance, the survivors of atomic bombs dropped on 1945 in Japan had high risks of leukemia. However, doctors are yet to know how low radiation doses from x-rays could affect the risk for leukemia. In a recent study, the researchers found that children having ALL had a twice risk of getting more x-rays when compared to those not diagnosed with leukemia. This doesn’t mean that parents should not allow their children to get x-rays. In the long run, it has been found that most of the kids getting x-rays don’t necessary get leukemia.

Other risk factors for leukemia- Down syndrome

Children born having Down syndrome tend to have genetic mutation, which might predispose them to a particular type of AML particularly in the first 3 years of life. Still, these children also have a high likelihood of getting ALL later in their childhood.

Radiation or thermotherapy

When radiation/ chemotherapy are used for treating another type of cancer, this can increase the risk of leukemia later in life. This is because the treatments lead to DNA damage in the white blood cells after chemotherapy and can cause leukemia. High radiation doses during treatment of cancer also increase the risk for chronic myelogenous and ALL leukemia.

Inherited genetic disorders

Certain rare inherited genetic disorders like Bloom’s syndrome may be linked with leukemia.


Smoking also increases the likelihood of one getting ALL. In a study than analyzed over 24000 people aged 14 years, it was found that cigarette smoking increases the risk of suffering from AML during adulthood. Still, another study revealed that exposure to secondhand smoking can increase the risk factor for CLL- chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Exposure to benzene

Being exposed to benzene chemical chronically especially for those who work at some manufacturing jobs could heighten the risk for leukemia.

Side effects of medications after getting an organ transplant

Drugs prescribed after getting an organ transplant tend to lower immunity and could increase the risk for leukemia among the users.

Advanced age

Research has found that cases of leukemia are more common among the older population aged above 60 years.
It is estimated by experts that over 3300 children and 43000 adults will be diagnosed with leukemia this year.