Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is cancer that originates in the lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that form a part of the immune system, protecting the body from germs and fighting infections. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be indolent or aggressive and cancer depends on the type of lymphocytes that are affected (B or T cells).
Research shows that non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is linked to a number of risk factors. There are also several types of lymphoma linked to various risk factors.
Some of them include:
As one gets older, they are at greater risk of getting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Most cases occur in people who are 60 or older, but there are also several cases of lymphoma that occur in younger people as well.
Many types of lymphoma occur mainly in men than in women. But women do get lymphoma as well.
- Family history
If your first-degree relative (mother, father, and sibling) has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, you have a higher risk of acquiring the disease.
- Race and ethnicity
In the country, Caucasians are more likely to get non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma than African-Americans and Asian-Americans. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common in the US and Europe. Lymphoma brought about by infections is found in very few countries.
- Body weight
Some studies indicate that people who are overweight and obese have a greater risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Some studies show that eating a diet that is rich in fat and meat can also lead to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But more studies are needed with conclusive findings.
- Autoimmune diseases
Certain autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and celiac disease have been linked to a higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The overactive immune system in a patient with autoimmune disease can cause the lymphocytes to develop into lymphoma.
- Infections causing an overactive immune function
Some infections can stimulate the immune system to become overactive. When lymphocytes are created in excess to fight the infection in the body, there is a possibility of a gene mutation to occur, leading to the cells turning into lymphoma. Some bacteria causing lung infections, stomach ulcers, intestinal infections, and long-term exposure to the hepatitis C virus can also expose the person to the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- A weak immune system
When a person has an organ transplant, they are given medicines to suppress immune response so that the new organ is not rejected. This leads to a weakened immune system. People infected with HIV also face a higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Children born with certain syndromes have a weak immune system as well and are at risk for this condition.
- Radiation exposure and exposure to some chemicals and drugs
Studies show that exposure to certain chemicals, pesticides and herbicides can increase the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. There are many studies ongoing regarding this topic. Chemotherapy drugs used to treat other cancer can also expose the patient to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Additionally, patients undergoing radiation treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma also face the risk of getting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.