Lymphoma Program Risk FactorsUnfortunately, most cases of lymphoma cannot be prevented, because there is no known causes of lymphoma. There are only possible risk factors.
A risk factor is something that increases a person's chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be controlled. Others, like a person's age, can't be changed. But risk factors don't tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And many people who get the disease may not have any known risk factors. Even if a person has a risk factor and gets cancer, it is often very hard to know how much that risk factor may have contributed to the cancer.
Risk Factors for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Getting older is a strong risk factor for lymphoma overall, with most cases occurring in people in their 60's or older. But some types of lymphoma are more common in younger people.
Overall, the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is higher in men than in women, but there are certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that are more common in women. The reasons for this are not known.
- Race, ethnicity, and geography
In the United States, whites are more likely than African Americans and Asian Americans to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Worldwide, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more common in developed countries, with the United States and Europe having the highest rates. Some types of lymphoma that have been linked to specific infections (described further on) are more common in certain parts of the world.
- Radiation exposure
Studies of survivors of atomic bombs and nuclear reactor accidents have shown they have an increased risk of developing several types of cancer, including leukemia, thyroid cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Immune system deficiency
People with weakened immune systems have an increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. For example, people who receive organ transplants (kidney, heart, liver) are treated with drugs that suppress their immune system to prevent it from attacking the new organ. These people have a higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can also weaken the immune system, and people infected with HIV are at increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Autoimmune diseases
Some autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, or lupus), celiac sprue (gluten-sensitive enteropathy), and others have been linked with an increased rate of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Infections that directly transform lymphocytes
- Infections that weaken the immune system - Infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Infections that cause chronic immune stimulation
- Body weight and diet
Some studies have suggested that being overweight or obese may increase your risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Source: American Cancer Society - Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Risk Factors for Hodkgin Lymphoma
- Epstein-Barr virus infection/mononucleosis
People who have had infectious mononucleosis (sometimes called mono for short), an infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), have an increased risk of Hodgkin disease.
Hodgkin disease is most common in early adulthood (ages 15 to 40, especially in a person's 20s) and in late adulthood (after age 55).
Hodgkin disease occurs slightly more often in males than in females.
Hodgkin disease is most common in the United States, Canada, and northern Europe, and is least common in Asian countries.
- Family history
Brothers and sisters of young people with this disease have a higher risk for Hodgkin disease. The risk is very high for an identical twin of a person with Hodgkin disease. But a family link is still uncommon, and is seen in only around 5% of all cases.
- HIV infection
The risk of Hodgkin disease is increased in people infected with HIV, the virus that causes.
Source: American Cancer Society - Hodgkin Disease