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Causes of Scleroderma: Solvents

Benzene, Trichloroethylene, Paint Thinners and Removers

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Solvents and Scleroderma
Patient Stories


Occupational exposure to solvents such as benzene, trichloroethylene, paint thinners and paint removers may be a cause of scleroderma in some cases.
Occupational Exposure to Solvents and Gender-Related Risk of Systemic Sclerosis (SSc): a Metaanalysis of Case-Control Studies. Whereas SSc affects women predominantly, among subjects with occupational exposure to solvents, men are at higher risk than women for the disease. J Rheumatol 2007 January;34:97–103.
Systemic Sclerosis and Occupational Risk Factors: Role of Solvents and Cleaning Products. Exposure to either cleaning products or solvents emerged as a risk factor for SSc. Exposure factors should be characterized and results of all studies compared to implement appropriate preventive measures in relevant workplaces. J Rheumatol. December 2004;31:2395-401.

Solvents and Scleroderma

A Message to the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation Re:Scleroderma Epidemic at Kahnawake. It is clear that the people of Kahnawake have been exposed to solvents from local industry and from dump sites. It is clear that there is much Scleroderma at Kahnawake. The high rate of Scleroderma must be investigated at Kahnawake and perhaps, Akwesasne. John H.W. Hummell, 10/05/09. (Also see: Causes of Scleroderma: Clusters and Kahnawake Scleroderma Support Group)
Occupational exposure and systemic sclerosis. Literature review and result of a self-reported questionnaire. Occupational exposure (labor and leisure) must be searched for when faced with a scleroderma patient for two reasons: the possible declaration of an occupational disease and a better knowledge on toxics involved in scleroderma. Granel B (PubMed) Rev Med Interne. 2008 Nov;29(11):891-900. (Also see: Causes of Scleroderma: Silica)
Evidence Increases For Toxicity Of trichloroethylene (TCE). The National Research Council found that TCE is a potential cause of kidney cancer and that it may cause reproductive and developmental problems, impaired neurological function, and autoimmune disease. Chemical & Engineering News. 07/28/06.
Conjugal progressive systemic sclerosis. We report here a case of systemic sclerosis in a wife and husband who both developed the onset of illness within a 10-year period. Solvent exposure was noted. PubMed. Rev Med Interne. 2006 Jan;27(1):63-65.
Epidemiology of organic solvents and connective tissue disease. Case reports suggest that solvents are associated with various connective tissue diseases (systemic sclerosis, scleroderma, undifferentiated connective tissue disease, systemic lupus erythematosis, and rheumatoid arthritis), particularly systemic sclerosis. Arthritis Res. 2000; 2(1): 5–15.
Amyloid deposition associated with generalized morphea-like scleroderma. (The patient) had been occupationally exposed to organic solvents. As far as we know, amyloid deposition associated with generalized morphea-like scleroderma has not been reported until now. PubMed. Eur J Dermatol. 2003 Sep-Oct;13(5):509-11. (Also see: Morphea)
A 63-year-old man developed generalized scleroderma four years after being diagnosed with porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT). He had almost daily exposure to organic solvents (benzene, trichlorethylene) for many years. The pansclerotic PCT was differentiated from a systemic sclerosis, a disabling pansclerotic morphea and a generalized morphea by means of histological examinations, the absence of a Raynaud phenomenon and the non-involvement of additional organs. Auto-antibodies typical for systemic sclerosis were negative. Using a medium dosage of UVA1 phototherapy and intensive physiotherapy, the progression of the skin disease was stopped and the sclerosis improved. PubMed. Hautarzt 2003 May;54(5):448-52 (Also see: Diseases Similar to Scleroderma)
Scleroderma and Solvent Exposure among Women. In summary, exposures to paint thinners and removers were associated with scleroderma in women but showed no evidence of increasing risk with increasing duration. Exposures to other specific chlorinated and nonchlorinated hydrocarbon solvents were not clearly associated with scleroderma. PubMed. Am J Epidemiol 2003 Mar 15;157(6):493-500.

Patient Stories

Brenda M: Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC), Fibromyalgia, Pulmonary Fibrosis, and Sjogren's Syndrome In 1965, when I was twenty-six, I went to work for a firm of electro-platers, which was mainly aircraft work...
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