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Lymphoma Causes, Risk Factors and Prevention

The team of lymphoma experts Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center is here to help. We use the latest research and advanced techniques to diagnose and treat patients with lymphoma. If you are worried about your risk of lymphoma or are experiencing symptoms, talk to your doctor or make an appointment with Banner MD Anderson.

What Causes Lymphoma?

No one knows what causes lymphoma. Most people diagnosed with the disease do not have any risk factors.

Lymphoma Risk Factors

Unlike many other forms of cancer, genetics, environment and lifestyle do not seem to play a large role in lymphoma risk. However, some factors are associated with a higher risk of lymphoma, primarily from problems with your immune system.

Factors that can increase the risk of lymphoma include:

  • Age: Most types of cancer, including lymphoma, become more common as you get older.
  • Gender: Men are slightly more likely to develop lymphoma than women.
  • Immune system deficiencies: Lymphoma is more common in people with immune system diseases or who take immune system suppressants.
  • Infections: Some infections, such as Epstein-Barr virus and Helicobacter pylori, are associated with lymphoma.
  • Obesity: Some studies suggest being overweight or obese may increase your risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Diet: Some studies suggest a diet high in fat, meats and dairy may raise your risk of lymphoma.
  • Cancer treatments: Some lymphomas may be caused by treatment with radiation and chemotherapy or the use of immune-suppressing drugs after an organ transplant.

How to Prevent Lymphoma

Some lifestyle factors have been linked with an increased risk of developing lymphoma. It is likely that any increased risks are small. However, the following factors are proven to reduce your risk of various cancers and diseases:

  • Avoiding activities that increase the chance of getting HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C infections
  • Avoiding unnecessary exposure to radiation
  • Quitting smoking – Our Tobacco Recovery Program has resources to help you quit smoking.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

If you’re concerned about your risk factors, be sure to talk to your doctor.

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