Causes of Non Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL)
Several factors are believed to bring about changes in the cell's DNA leading to Non Hodgkins Lymphoma.
The causative factors inducing non-Hodgkins lymphoma is not clearly understood. Cancers in general are caused by changes in a cell's DNA such as translocations or deletions. These changes induce a normal cell to become malignant and it begins to divide in an uncontrolled manner.
But what triggers these changes?
1. Virus- Two viral agents have been understood to play a role in causing NHL. They are:
► Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)- 1-2 % of those who are immuno- suppressed immediately after organ transplantation or those who have HIV/AIDS, test positive for EBV. These individuals are also at a greater risk for developing NHL. In these cases, the lymphoma regresses once the immuno deficient status is corrected. EBV is positive in most cases of African pediatric Burkitt's lymphoma.
► Human T-cell lymphoma/leukemia virus (HTLV-I) - It is understood that individuals who are infected early in life with the HTLV have a 3 % chance of developing T-cell lymphomas or leukemias, and diseases related to the central nervous system.
2. Other possible causes
A few of the NHL causes listed below are yet to be scientifically proven. Nevertheless all of them are strong contenders for the role of causative agents.
► Herbicides/Pesticides, including the household variety, are believed to play a role in causing cancer
► Evidence indicates that nitrates present in drinking water may give rise to NHL.
► Some studies show that hair dyes may play a role in causing NHL. However there is no unanimous support to corroborate this theory.
► A few studies indicate that there is a possible connection between high consumption of milk or meat and NHL development. This has however not been supported by other studies.
► Long-term use of illegal drugs, tobacco and alcohol have been shown by some to increase an individual's chances of developing the disease.
► Other infections, such as those with Helicobacter Pylori, are capable of predisposing a person to develop certain lymphomas, like those affecting the Mucosa Associated Lymphoid Tissue (MALT).
► There is a greater risk among the elderly to develop NHL after a blood transfusion. This could arise from the inability of their immune system to cope with foreign blood products.
► A familial history of lymphoma or leukemia predisposes an individual to develop NHL, two to three fold.
► Certain speculations exist regarding a link between NHL and illnesses like asthma, tropical celiac disease, certain types of arthritis and allergies.
► Continuous antigenic or immune system stimulation could trigger NHL and other related illnesses.
► Age diminishes the efficiency of the immune system, which is rendered incapable of repairing the damages inflicted by the toxic agents on the DNA.