Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a debilitating disease of the immune system has been associated with an increased risk of developing a cancer of the immune system known as lymphoma, but a clear relation between the use of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin and RA has never been satisfactorily established.
To answer this query and many others like it, researchers in Sweden conducted a large-scale investigation into the link between RA and lymphoma. They found that patients with RA do have a significantly increased risk of developing lymphoma. In the report appearing in the in the March 2006 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, the reserachers tracked the medical history of 378 RA patients affected with malignant lymphoma between 1964 and 1995 and compared them with 378 non-lymphoma patients. The patients with RA classified as low, medium and high activity patients. It was found that patients with medium RA had a 8-fold increase in the risk of developing lymphoma, while high RA activity was associated with a 70-fold increase in lymphoma risk. It was also found that one year before lymphoma diagnosis, patients had irreversible joint damage in the hands, feet, and knees. "From a drug safety perspective, our results provide background data that should be considered essential for the evaluation of lymphoma risk following therapy with TNF blockers, for example, as well as other new drugs," noted lead author Dr. Lars Klareskog of Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm.
Contact: Amy Molnar
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Article: "Association of Chronic Inflammation, Not Its Treatment, With Increased Lymphoma Risk in Rheumatoid Arthritis," Eva Baecklund, Anastasia Iliadou, Johan Askling, Anders Ekbom, Carin Backlin, Fredrik Granath, Anca Irinel Catrina, Richard Rosenquist, Nils Feltelius, Christer Sundström, and Lars Klareskog, Arthritis & Rheumatism, March 2006, 54:3, pp. 692-701.