Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Risk Factors
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What Are the Risk Factors for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?
Lymphomas are classified based on the type of lymphocyte involved as well as several other factors, including cell size and how the cancer grows. Over 30 distinct types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) have been identified. These types tend to share similar risk factors.
While the actual cause of NHL is usually unknown, common risk factors associated with the disease include:
- Age – Individuals age 60 and older are at an increased risk for developing the disease.
- Gender – Men have a slightly greater chance of developing the disease than women.
Race – NHL is more common in Caucasians than African Americans.
Other non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk factors include:
- Inherited immune disorder (e.g., hypogammaglobulinemia, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Autoimmune disease (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, lupus)
- Immunosuppressant drugs (e.g., administered after an organ transplant)
- Viruses, infection (e.g., HIV/AIDS, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, Epstein-Barr virus, human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma virus, human herpes virus 8, hepatitis C virus)
- Exposure to certain chemicals (e.g., pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides)
NOTE: Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer. Not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. If you think you may be at risk, you should discuss it with your doctor.
Understanding Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Risk Factors
In most cases, it is not known what causes NHL. Some individuals without any of the known risk factors may still develop the disease. It is not clear why certain factors may increase your risk, or how a particular factor may affect the likelihood of developing NHL.
Some of the risk factors for non-Hodgkin lymphoma may be beyond our control, such as age and gender. Our lifestyle choices may also play a role in our risk for developing the disease. Some studies are exploring how a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables may actually lower the risk of lymphoma.
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