Height, Weight Linked to Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
It’s one of today’s great medical mysteries. Why do cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) keep growing?
Now researchers at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel believe they’ve uncovered evidence that height and weight in early adulthood predict the likelihood of developing NHL. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell and a vital constituent of the immune system.
A sharp rise in NHL cases has been noted since the 1980s. For instance, in Israel, incidence of NHL between 1990 and 2012 rose by 27 percent. No one can say for sure what has caused this increase, but it’s prompted a flurry of research around the globe.
Investigators used data from the Israel National Cancer Registry, taken during compulsory medical board examinations. In total, 2,352,988 teens aged 16 to 19 were included; of these, 4,021 cases of NHL were reported.
The study found that being overweight or obese increased risk of NHL by 25 percent.
Heightened risk for obese people was not really a surprise, but the study team’s next finding was. Height also increased the risk of NHL. When compared with mid-range heights, shorter individuals showed a 25 percent reduced risk of NHL, while the tallest participants showed a 28 percent increase in risk.
Scrambling to explain the latter finding, one theory is that height is influenced by genetic factors, which, in turn, might play a role in disease etiology.