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Does Smoking Affect Hodgkin Lymphoma Risk?


Updated June 17, 2014

Question: Does Smoking Affect Hodgkin Lymphoma Risk?

Hodgkin Lymphoma has always been one of those cancers where not much was understood about the cause of lymphoma. The only known factor that seemed to matter was infection with the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). But recently published research has shown that smoking may have a role in Hodgkin Lymphoma risk.


A study, published in a leading journal in January 2007, has demonstrated that smoking may be one the factors that lead to the development of Hodgkin lymphoma. In a study carried out among Hodgkin Lymphoma sufferers and healthy individuals, the incidence of smoking and alcohol intake were measured. The results turned out to be quite interesting:

  • Overall, smokers tend to have a 40% higher risk of developing Hodgkin Lymphoma.
  • The risk was higher among current smokers (those who have been smoking within the last two years) than among those who have quit smoking. The risk reduces to the same level as non-smokers about 10 years after quitting.
  • Those with Hodgkin Lymphoma who have Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) infection seemed to have a much stronger link with smoking than those in whom the lymphoma is EBV negative. This suggests that smoking and EBV may interact to increase the chance of developing Hodgkin Lymphoma. We don’t know how this interaction might take place.
  • There seems to be no link between alcohol intake and Hodgin Lymphoma risk.

These results add another cancer to the list of smoking related cancers. If you’re smoking, here’s another reason to stop.

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