I hope I worded my question well enough. I remember when I was in my initial diagnose appointment with my oncologist, he mentioned they do not what causes lymphoma. He also brought up the question of environmental factors.
I remember 25 years ago when I would enjoy outdoor activities I would do what I was told to do and slather on sunblock with a UVA of 45%. I thought to myself back then, what am I doing to my body by putting on all these chemicals?
I know there are a few self educated and well informed participants on this lls.org discussion board. Have you come across any environmental theories or stats in your research? Not that I can turn back the clock . . .
There are a number of factors which are known to increase the risk of lymphoma. Herbicides and pesticides are strongly implicated, and other chemicals are thought to be associated with increased risk as well. There are also some viruses which are known to cause NHL as well. Epstein Barr (mononucleosis), HTLV-1, Helicobacter Pylori and Hepatitis C are all known risk factors.
I have a list of studies on the topic of the causes of lymphoma. Here is the link.
But I don't think anyone can really pin it down to one cause or another. It takes multiple mutations or cellular events for a cell to become cancerous. It is still not entirely well understood. One example is the t(14:18) chromosomal translocation which is the hallmark of follicular lymphoma. However a significant percentage of the healthy population also carry this chromosomal abnormality, and they never develop fNHL. Something else (or multiple something elses) have to happen to eventually cause it to become cancer.
Hi - If this topic is of interest to you, you really owe it to yourself to pick up the book, "Living Downstream" by Sandra Steingraber. It has just been updated and re-released as a 2nd edition. The original book was very well written and a real eye-opener.
Another thing of interest is the website http://www.scorecard.org/. You can type in your zip code and generate a map of the biggest polluters in your vicinity. Another eye-opener.
One common misconception that I see verbalized over and over is that a pollutant must be consumed/eaten to be a danger. But Steingraber points out that many chemicals are easily absorbed through the skin, and such exposure, whether transdermal or respiratory, can actually be far worse than ingesting the offending agent, as there is no liver first-pass metabolism to detoxify the chemical; rather, it is absorbed directly into one's bloodstream.
I also found the recent post by the mother of two daughters with different types of blood cancers on this very board of interest...while there may be a genetic link, folks tend to overlook the fact that the other thing we often share with other family members is - environment.
I too believe that lymphoma is caused by environmental factors, but I don't think anyone knows exactly why. I grew up near (within 15 miles) a chemical plant that is now closed, but so did the hundred's of other children who went to school with me. So we have to be predisposed in some way for the lymphoma to present itself.
However, one statisic that I always find very interesting is that the incidence for lymphomas have tripled since the 1970's. That type of increase in incidence is pretty unheard of I think. So to me, I'm not sure what other factor, except environment, could cause something to increase that much in 30 years. But the good news is that the deaths rates have decreased...so although there are more people being diagnosed, there are more people LIVING with lymphoma.
Not quite tripled, but it is close to double what it used to be in the 1970's. In that decade the incidence was 10.2 cases for 100,000 in the USA (Canada is about the same) and in 2006 it was 19.5. In this past decade it has stopped rising, and even dropped a little from its peak of 20.8 in 2004.
I have a spreadsheet that shows the incidence per year for the past 33 years. Just go to this link.
(Order a pin too if you like. All the money goes to Lymphoma Foundation Canada for education and awareness)
Scroll down to the bottom and download the excel spreadsheet with the data and the graph. The second sheet on the spreadsheet gives the raw data, the first sheet shows the graph.
Although that graph does not show it, I have another excel spreadsheet which shows the number of cases and the number of deaths. For the past 10 years the number of cases has stayed steady (and risen a bit) but the number of deaths keeps dropping. This, I believe reflects the improvement in treatments thanks to things like Rituxan.