Unraveling the Causes and Associations of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Comprehensive Overview

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL), a complex group of cancers affecting the lymphatic system, Causes and associations of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma presents a significant public health concern worldwide. In order to further our understanding and promote early detection and treatment, it is crucial to explore the causes and associations of this disease.

What is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma represents a heterogeneous group of malignancies that originate in the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell integral to our immune system. Its incidence varies across different geographic regions, reflecting its complex etiology. With an ever-increasing number of cases, understanding the risk factors, causes, and associations can facilitate targeted prevention and early intervention strategies.

Potential Causes and Risk Factors of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

While the exact causes of NHL remain unknown, numerous risk factors and associations have been identified, adding layers of complexity to its understanding.


Older adults, particularly those aged 60 and above, face a higher risk of developing NHL. This can be attributed to the cumulative effects of various environmental exposures and immunological changes associated with aging.

Immune System Deficiencies

People with weakened immune systems, due to conditions such as HIV/AIDS or those on immunosuppressive drugs following organ transplants, Causes and associations of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma are at a significantly increased risk. This is because a healthy immune system is capable of identifying and destroying abnormal cells, preventing them from proliferating into cancer.

Autoimmune Diseases

Certain autoimmune diseases, including Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sjogren’s Syndrome, increase NHL risk. This might be due to chronic inflammation or the overactive immune response itself, which can lead to lymphocyte mutations.


Infections like Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV-1), Hepatitis C, and certain bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori have been linked with increased risk of NHL. These pathogens may trigger chronic inflammation or interfere with DNA repair mechanisms, promoting malignant transformation. It manifests symptoms like sore throat, but the results are scary.

Chemical Exposures

Exposure to certain chemicals such as pesticides, solvents, and fertilizers, particularly in occupational settings, has been associated with a higher risk of NHL. These chemicals may alter DNA within lymphocytes, leading to malignancy.

Genetic Factors

A family history of NHL or other hematologic malignancies suggests a possible genetic predisposition. Some genetic syndromes, such as Ataxia-Telangiectasia and Nijmegen breakage syndrome, also increase NHL risk.

Lifestyle Associations with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

While the above factors contribute to the risk, certain lifestyle factors can also influence one’s susceptibility to NHL.

Obesity and Diet

A link has been suggested between obesity, diet rich in meats and fats, and increased NHL risk, potentially due to inflammation and hormonal changes. On the contrary, diets rich in vegetables and fruits may offer a protective effect.

Smoking and Alcohol Consumption

While the association between smoking, alcohol consumption, and NHL is less clear-cut compared to other cancers, some studies suggest a moderate increase in risk, particularly for certain subtypes of NHL.

Physical Activity

Regular physical activity may decrease the risk of NHL by enhancing immune function, reducing inflammation, and assisting in weight control.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional with any questions you may have.


  1. Morton, L. M., Slager, S. L., Cerhan, J. R., Wang, S. S., Vajdic, C. M., Skibola, C. F., … & Severson, R. K. (2014). Etiologic heterogeneity among non-Hodgkin lymphoma subtypes: the InterLymph Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Subtypes Project. Journal of the National Cancer Institute: Monographs, 2014(48), 130-144.
  2. Skibola, C. F. (2007). Obesity, diet and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers, 16(3), 392-395.
  3. Teras, L. R., Gapstur, S. M., Diver, W. R., Birmann, B. M., Patel, A. V., & Chiu, B. C. H. (2016). Recreational physical activity, leisure sitting time and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoid neoplasms in the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II Cohort. International journal of cancer, 139(3), 532-544.
  4. Chang, E. T., & Smedby, K. E. (2018). Challenges and future directions in epidemiologic research on non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Current Epidemiology Reports, 5(1), 1-11.

Read Tanzir Islam Britto’s post-Treatment of Lymphoma: an approach to fighting lymphoma

Frequently Asked Questions

Reference List


All Tags

Related Posts

Follow Me

Tanzir Islam Britto

Hello, I'm Dr. Tanzir Islam Britto. As a dedicated physician, I've embarked on my medical journey at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical College (BSMMC), previously known as Faridpur Medical College, where I pursued my Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS). I completed my degree at Shahabuddin Medical College (SMC). Alongside my medical career, I am an amateur writer and an active social media advocate, where I share insights into health, wellness, and more.

Other Posts:

Social media can be a good thing. It can help you to connect with people, find like-minded communities, view content...

Researchers have unveiled groundbreaking insights into “super-agers,” elderly individuals whose cognitive abilities match those of much younger people. This research,...

Multitasking is often seen as the key to efficiency. But how many of these popular beliefs are myths? Discover the...
Scroll to Top