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Risk Factors for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing non-Hodgkins lymphoma. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors include:

Medical Conditions

Non-Hodgkins lymphoma seems to occur more often in people who:

  • Have had chronic infections, such as Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis C, and HIV
  • Have autoimmune and chronic inflammatory conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and Sjogren's syndrome


Some non-Hodgkins lymphomas are associated with the use of immunosuppressive drugs that are used to prevent transplant rejection. These drugs weaken your immune system response.

Advancing Age

The chance of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma increases with age.


Men are more likely than women to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Chemical and Radiation Exposure

People who work around pesticides, fertilizers, and solvents have a greater chance of developing non-Hodgkins lymphoma than people who do not have this exposure. People with significant exposure to radiation, such as survivors of nuclear explosions or accidents or those exposed to radon gas, are more likely to develop lymphoma. Therapeutic x-rays do not increase the risk of lymphoma.

Family History

People who have a parent with non-Hodgkins lymphoma may have an increased risk of developing this cancer. This is especially true if the family member had it at an early age.

Revision Information

  • Lymphoma. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: . Updated April 19, 2013. Accessed April 29, 2013.

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: . Accessed April 29, 2013.

  • 2/5/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Kharazmi E, Fallah M, et al. Familial risk of early and late onset cancer: nationwide prospective cohort study. BMJ . 2012;345:e8076.

  • 7/7/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Liang Y, Yang Z, et al. Primary Sjogren's syndrome and malignancy risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2014 Jun;73(6):1151-1156.