Risk factors for Hodgkin lymphoma

This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by

Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science.

This page was updated on May 26, 2022.

While the exact cause of Hodgkin lymphoma may not be known, several factors make increase the risk of developing the disease. Hodgkin lymphoma develops in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.


Gender: Men have a slightly greater chance of developing the disease than women.

Age: Adults in their 20s and early 30s and those over age 55 are at an increased risk for developing Hodgkin lymphoma.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV): Known for causing "mono" in young adults, EBV may be associated with certain cancers, including lymphomas.

Compromised immune system: Having a compromised immune system from HIV/AIDS, or from immunosuppressants to prevent organ transplant rejection, may increase the risk for developing Hodgkin lymphoma.


Family history: Having a parent or sibling with the disease may increase the risk. However, the American Cancer Society reports that only 5 percent of cases are found to have a family link.

Learn more about genetic testing


Geography: Hodgkin lymphoma is most common in North America and northern Europe.

Socioeconomic status: Hodgkin lymphoma is more common in individuals with a higher socioeconomic background.

Next topic: What are the symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma?

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