Background: The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate medical conditions and modifiable risk factors for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) using the 2001 or 2008 World Health Organization (WHO) diagnostic criteria. Methods: PubMed, MEDLINE, and Scopus databases were searched for studies published between January 2001 and August 2017. Study characteristics and findings were abstracted for each article. Results: Thirteen articles (4 cohort, 9 case-control) met the inclusion criteria. Smoking and alcohol use were each evaluated as potential MDS risk factors in four studies. Body mass index and anemia were each evaluated in two studies. Other potential risk factors evaluated in single studies included physical activity, dietary intake (tea, isoflavones, meat, fruit, or vegetables), history of allergies, autoimmune disorders and community-acquired infections, and use of antituberculosis drugs, traditional Chinese medicines, or hair dyes. Conclusions: Higher BMI, smoking, a history of autoimmune disorders, community-acquired infections, history of anemia, and use of antituberculosis drugs were associated with higher risk of MDS. Vigorous physical activity and tea and dietary isoflavone intake were associated with lower MDS risk. These findings suggest no association between the other factors and risk of MDS. Impact: Research on risk factors for MDS is limited, and further research in larger studies is needed.
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