What Are the Causes of Lymphoma?

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What are the causes of lymphoma? The answer is as clear as it is disappointing: Nobody really knows.

The question often comes to the recently diagnosed, in the form of 'how did I get this disease?' but it's a question they will never know the answer to with any degree of certainty.

That is because while some areas of cancer research have made great strides, one area that has made next to none is the determination of how one person developed the cancer that is specific to him or to her.

Certain molecular characteristics can tell doctors what chromosomal mutations occurred that drive the cancer or permit the cancer, but as to what specifically caused those mutations, this

Therefore one can only answer the question, 'what are the causes of lymphoma', by discussing the causes of lymphoma from a general perspective.

Viral and Bacterial Causes

A small number of viruses and at least one species of bacteria have been associated with lymphoma. For instance, the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been closely linked with certain subtypes of lymphoma. The same is true for the HTLV-1 virus, which is linked to a rare, specific T-cell lymphoma.

Meanwhile, a bacteria called Helicobacter Pylori is the leading cause of a certain stomach disease known as MALT lymphoma.

Environmental Causes

Environmental exposures such as exposure to certain herbicides, pesticides, solvents and even household products like hair dyes are a common target for blame, and rightfully so, since large-scale epidemiological studies have managed to allow scientists to draw various conclusions about the association between exposure to these chemicals and the development of lymphoma.

The problem is in being able to claim with scientific proof that person A developed lymphoma from exposure to chemical B.

Immune System Disorders

An association has been made between some immune system disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, lupus, and lymphoma. The hypothesis is that the mutations that lead to lymphoma are normally taken care of by the immune system, but when a person has a compromised immune system, it becomes easier for those mutations to survive.

Some medications for immune systems disorders are also believed to lead to lymphoma, but this remains fairly speculative.

Genetic Causes

It seems possible that certain people, due to their genetics, may be more susceptible to developing lymphoma, and it isn't terribly uncommon for siblings to develop Hodgkin's lymphoma. However, there is very little about this area of science that is certain.

To conclude, there is epidemiological evidence to support some general conclusions about the causes of lymphoma, but almost none to support any specific cause related to a specific person beyond some virus-related subtypes.

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